The Department of Housing and Urban Development already is upgrading its Web site that offers consumers neighborhood maps and demographic data, calling the two-month-old initiative a dramatic success.

At www.hud.gov/emaps, consumers can find out whether the Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring a site near a home they want to buy, what federal resources are available to redevelop an abandoned factory, or if there are any environmental hazards on the way to their children's school.

Initially launched by HUD in mid-September, "E-Maps" has been featured as a "hot site" by ABC.com, CNN, USA Today and covered by other media, including Real Estate-Realtor Times. Since its inception, the site has had from 10,000 to 50,000 hits a day.

Recently added upgrades make the site even more user friendly.

The new version can create up to 8,000 environmental maps an hour, provide U.S. Census data for any and every neighborhood in the country, enable users to work simultaneously with multiple map layers at multiple sites, and provide for easier entry and linking with other data bases.

"Demand for HUD E-MAPS information has been explosive," said Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo.

"Based on comments from our customers, we are enhancing the site's capacity, expanding available data sets and making the site easier to use. Information is power and we want to make sure every citizen, local government and advocacy organization has the power to get the information they need to make environmentally-smart decisions about the futures of their families and communities."

The mapping site uses neighborhood specific EPA databases and combined them with HUD's Community 2020 software. The HUD software is able to provide users with more than 600 types of census data for geographic areas as big as a state or as small as a block.

The purpose of the mapping site, says HUD, is to "enable communities to make informed policy decisions in a number of ways. E-Maps can help communities make environmentally informed decisions about the sites for new housing complexes or projects, or help communities prioritize the demolition of existing complexes."

Similarly, communities interested in redeveloping Brownfields industrial sites can use the site to help determine what financial resources are available to leverage the project, including information about possible tax incentives.

The data now available on the site includes:

  • Site-specific information about every EPA Superfund site as well as descriptions of the laws and regulations governing the Superfund program.
  • A listing and description of Brownfields where expansion or redevelopment is limited by real or perceived environmental contamination.
  • Reports about air pollution emitted from electric power plants, steel mills, factories, universities and other sources.
  • Information that tracks which facilities use, manufacture, transport or release some 650 toxic chemicals, including information about air emissions, surface-water discharges, releases to land, underground injections and transfers to off-site locations.
  • Information about businesses that generate, transport, treat, store and dispose of hazardous waste, including the status of permit, regulatory compliance and clean-up activities of each entity.
  • Trend analyses of hazardous waste generation.
  • Information about which companies have been issued permits to discharge waste water into the nation's rivers, including the expiration date of the permit, how much a company is permitted to discharge, and how much and what the company has discharged.
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