The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently congratulated Our House for the redevelopment of a boiler plant associated with the former Little Rock Veterans Administration Hospital. The project participants were recently honored at an awards ceremony in Chicago.
Our House’s new Children’s Center facility, sitting on 1.4 acres, provides licensed, quality-rated children’s programs for 150 homeless and near-homeless children ages 0-17 each day. The $4.8 million project was one of 10 winners of the recent 2014 Phoenix Awards.
“This project exemplifies how small ideas can make huge impacts through superior vision and dedication,” said EPA regional administrator Ron Curry. “This project not only help families out of homelessness, but provides other essential services to help give homeless families the skills and support they need to turn their lives around while redeveloping a contaminated area.”
In 2013, EPA provided funding to assess and rid the property of asbestos and lead-based paint. Today the facility serves as a national model for helping children and families overcome homelessness. The funding also helped finance the restoration of the property and building, cleaning of contamination, removal of underground storage tanks, and petroleum.
“In planning our Children’s Center, it was crucial for us to have the confidence to tell parents, without a shadow of a doubt, that their children would be safe in our care,” said Ben Goodwin, Assistant Director of Our House and project manager for the Children’s Center project. “And now we can do that, thanks to the tremendous help we received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and the Pulaski County Brownfields Program.”
Created in 1997, this prestigious award honors individuals and groups who are working to solve the critical environmental challenge of transforming blighted and contaminated areas into productive new uses. The Phoenix Awards are widely recognized as the outstanding award for achievement of excellence in Brownfields redevelopment, and often are called “the Brownfields equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscar.”
The awards are open to any individual, group, company, organization, government body or agency. Criteria for the Phoenix Awards focus on the magnitude of the project, innovative techniques, solutions to regulatory issues, and impact upon the community. A panel of environmental professionals and business, academic and government leaders select the winners.