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New Supplementary Retrofit Grants Coming Soon To Underserved Neighborhoods

September 15, 2021

Starting this fall, CEA plans to offer new supplementary grants to low-income homeowners to help pay for the entire cost of strengthening their older houses in California. These grants will be available to eligible residents in underserved neighborhoods. So, CEA contacted community leaders to help us spread the word about this exciting development, and in August we hosted a virtual meeting for Los Angeles region residents to learn about the grants, and the importance of retrofitting older homes.

Retrofit grants for older homes in california

The meeting was well attended, with about 40 community leaders and residents participating in the webinar. CEA’s Chief Mitigation Officer Janiele Maffei talked about the eligibility requirements for the new supplementary grant. She also illustrated how straightforward the retrofit process can be, and the benefits that retrofits bring to families and communities by enabling them to be more resilient after an earthquake.

CEA's Janiele Maffei and team meet virtually with Los Angeles residents to speak about the new grant and residential seismic retrofits
CEA's Janiele Maffei and team meet virtually with Los Angeles residents to speak about the new grant and residential seismic retrofits on August 3.

Many participants asked about the cost to retrofit a home. Maffei, who is a structural engineer, described the different types of homes that can be especially vulnerable to earthquakes in California. The type of home often determines the type of retrofit it needs, and the cost. For example, strengthening a typical wood-framed raised foundation house, built before 1980, may cost an average of $5,500 in Southern California.

Maffei explained that for several years the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) grant program has helped homeowners pay for their retrofit. To date, it has distributed more than 15,000 grants of up to $3,000 each to residents statewide in areas most prone to suffer earthquake damage. The new supplementary grant will be exclusively offered to households in underserved neighborhoods, with households that earn less than $72,080 a year.

The goal of this is that the sum of both grants can cover up to 100% of the funds needed to pay for the retrofit of a qualifying home. “We are constantly looking for funding, so we can expand our base program and our supplementary grant program,” said Maffei. “We are making good progress in Los Angeles; with regards to the supplementary grant, the direction is now to the South-Central part of Los Angeles.”

Supplemental Retrofit Grant Eligibility

Maffei also explained that making a home more seismically resilient can be a straightforward process. She pointed out that, despite common misconceptions, even a skilled do-it-yourselfer can carry out this work, or homeowners may prefer to hire a contractor. The EBB website lists trained contractors and Do It Yourself tips in case a skilled homeowner wants to save thousands of dollars by doing the work themselves.

During the webinar, residents were also reminded that the latest science warns that there is a 75 percent chance of one or more magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquakes striking Southern California in the next 30 years. A quake of that magnitude would likely result in devastating damage. Given the shortage of housing, as well as the high cost of construction and repairs, it is important to be prepared and make homes stronger now.

CEA's team thanked L.A. residents for their participation and invited them to check out our webpage www.StrengthenMyHouse.com during the virtual meeting
CEA's team thanked L.A. residents for their participation and invited them to check out our webpage www.StrengthenMyHouse.com during the virtual meeting on August 3.

The reality is that most Californians live within 30 miles of an active fault and an earthquake can strike in our state at any moment. A damaging quake can cause a community to take a long time to rebuild. Residents were reminded that during a natural disaster, like an earthquake or wildfire, families could be displaced and may have to endure a lot of trauma and stress. Furthermore, government assistant may not be readily available or provide enough funds to help households recover financially. Therefore, it is smart to be proactive and help reduce some of the risk before an earthquake occurs, with a seismic retrofit. These grants can help make that process financially viable. So, take action now and sign up to be notified when the EBB registration period launches this fall (possibly in October), so that you can register for the program and apply for the supplementary grant, if eligible.



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