NORTH PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — North Port St. Joe officials said there has never been a thorough assessment of the area.

Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, they now have $850,000 to conduct one.

The EPA’s Regional Administrator Daniel Blackman presented the money to the Pioneer Bay Community Development Corporation on Monday.

“We’re very proud to know this work will be transformative and will help so much in the community,”

A huge problem that needs to be fixed is the sinking of homes.

Officials said an underground stream used to run through the area prior to it becoming a landfill.

“Which was made up of basically pine, straw, bark, and wood. And now over the years that pine, straw, bark and wood, along with the underground stream is causing the houses to sink because it’s rotting and decaying,” North Port St. Joe Project Area Coalition Vice President Dannie Bolden said.

Dannie Bolden said they know about 10 homes affected by this but they believe the problem is much bigger.

He said it’s very probable the water spread to other areas too.

They also want to study the air quality.

“The St. Joe Paper Company basically dumped ash, there’s been found to be some arsenic, there’s been some cyanide found out here that’s in the groundwater tape,” Bolden said.

Three grants are going to help with this initiative.

A collaborative problem-solving grant will allow the community to get together and discuss what issues they have.

A job training grant will allow the community to be a part of the environmental cleanup and get paid for doing it.

The last one is the assessment grant.

“I mean, we’ve been through a lot,” Pioneer Bay Community Development Corporation Executive Director Akosua Duah said. “We’ve come so far and I can hardly believe it tonight. I’m so grateful.”

Officials hope to get to work in july.