Homeowners Encouraged to Apply for Retrofitting Grant

Photo provided by California Brace and Bolt

By Mary O’KEEFE

There are over 500 known active faults in California, according to Dr. Steve Bohlen, California state geologist.

This science is based on over four decades of earthquake monitoring and research done by the California Geological Survey and other agencies. But it’s not just known faults that can pose a risk.

“We know there are hidden faults that are not active but could become active,” Bohlen said.

Bohlen was part of a recent informational conference that focused on earthquake preparedness, including retrofitting grants offered by the State of California.

“Most California residents live within 30 miles of an active fault,” Bohlen said.

He stressed that residents need to be proactive in preparing for a major earthquake including having an earthquake kit and a family plan, and making sure the house’s water heater is secured with strapping and considering purchasing earthquake insurance and retrofitting the property. California’s Brace and Bolt program is a good way for homeowners to get help in making their home more secure through retrofitting in case of an earthquake.

California Earthquake Authority CEO Glenn Pomeroy said that of the 16,000 older houses across the state whose owners have taken advantage of the Brace and Bolt program, over half were located in Los Angeles County.

The Brace and Bolt program provides grants up to $3,000 to homeowners to strengthen pre-1980 houses against earthquake damage. There are now 395 zip codes (including 91214) throughout the state that have been identified as being earthquake high risk.

“We understand there are one million homes in California in areas of high hazards,” said Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the CEA and executive director of Earthquake Bolt and Brace. “We live in earthquake country and we need to be prepared. The earthquake Brace and Bolt program is making California residents more resilient one house at a time.”

Candidates for the retrofitting grant program include older houses, built in the 1980s and before, that have a crawl space area or cripple wall that was built with older materials.

As of last week, about 16,000 homes had taken advantage of the retrofitting grant program but all homeowners are urged to fill out the application to see if they qualify.

“I encourage everyone to take advantage of this $3,000 grant to brace your home,” said State Senator Anthony Portantino. “I have learned over 2,000 homeowners in my district have [already] taken advantage of this program.”

He reminded people that, depending on the severity of the earthquake damage, some residents may be out of their homes for over two years following a major event.

Assemblymember District 46 Adrin Nazarian echoed Portantino’s urging for homeowners to apply for the grant. He represents the area just south of Northridge and, for him, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was a wake-up call to be prepared.

It is important that the state continues to incentivize programs to make sure we are offering the support necessary to homeowners and to businesses, he said.

“This is free money from the government for you, with no strings attached,” added Assemblymember Laura Friedman.

She said it made economic sense for the state to offer this retrofitting grant in an effort to be proactive. The money spent now will save the money that the government would spend if houses are destroyed.

“Don’t wait,” urged Lori Nuzhura, deputy director of Planning and Preparedness and Prevention with California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “Take it from someone whose job it is to prepare for and prevent disaster and do it [apply] today.” 

“I like to say how well you are prepared equates to how well you will survive,” Bohlen added. “That is just a simple fact.”

For information on or to register for the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program go to earthquakebracebolt.com.