SACRAMENTO) The Earthquake Brace + Bolt program (EBB) now has helped more than 5,000 California homeowners to seismically retrofit their older houses with grants of up to $3,000. Because older houses are likely to slide off their foundations during an earthquake, a brace-and-bolt seismic retrofit—bracing cripple walls and bolting the house to the foundation—makes the house more resistant to earthquake damage.
The EBB retrofit grants were financed with $8.5 million from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), $300,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and $6 million from the State of California. CEA is continually seeking additional grant-funding sources, to help more Californians make their older houses safer through a building-code-compliant retrofit.
“CEA developed this program and funded these grants to help reduce earthquake damage and improve safety for people in older houses,” said CEA CEO Glenn Pomeroy. “EBB grants go to qualifying homeowners in select ZIP Codes—and those completing EBB retrofits who have a CEA policy also may qualify for a CEA-premium discount of up to 20 percent.”
EBB is rapidly building momentum, with record numbers of California homeowners registering for the latest program phase earlier this year. In fact, demand for both residential retrofitting and earthquake insurance have surged during the last two years: EBB has seen a 70 percent increase in registration from two years ago and a 31 percent increase from 2017. And CEA now has over one million earthquake insurance policies in force after unprecedented policy sales in 2016 and 2017.
“EBB was a pilot program in just two California cities only five years ago,” said CEA Chief Mitigation Officer and EBB Executive Director Janiele Maffei. “Today, EBB grants are available in more than 50 cities and 180 ZIP Codes, statewide. We will announce even more ZIP Codes next year—with 1.2 million California houses needing this kind of retrofit, we have more work to do.”
Houses that qualify for EBB grants typically are pre-1979 construction (with pre-1940 houses more prevalent in the program), have a raised concrete foundation and may have wood-framed walls in the crawl space under the house.
Eligible EBB ZIP Codes are selected by equally applying two criteria:
1. The earthquake risk in the ZIP Code, according to the U.S. Geological Survey earthquake hazard map; and
2. Earthquake vulnerability based on the ZIP Code’s percentage of pre-1940 houses.
Established as a program within the California Residential Mitigation Program, a joint powers authority of the California Earthquake Authority and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, EBB offers grants of up to $3,000 to help California homeowners retrofit their houses to reduce potential earthquake damage. A residential seismic retrofit makes a house more resistant to earthquake activity, such as ground shaking and soil failure, by bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space. Learn more at EarthquakeBraceBolt.com.