$13K Grants from FEMA to Make Homes More Earthquake-Resistant

Southern California FEMA Grants

In a significant move aimed at earthquake preparedness, homeowners in selected Southern California cities will now be able to apply for a seismic retrofit grant of up to $13,000. This is aimed at fortifying homes to reduce structural vulnerabilities to earthquakes and enhancing the safety of the residents.

This pilot program is a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) comprehensive strategy to prevent severe damage akin to what was witnessed during the infamous Northridge earthquake of 1994. It is specifically targeted at homeowners whose homes were constructed prior to 2000 and have a second floor built over a garage. These homeowners are eligible for the program and can apply for a grant of up to $13,000 to retrofit their homes to withstand seismic activities.

Robert Develle, a Pasadena-based engineer, stressed the importance of retrofitting, stating, “The safety of your home is extremely important.” Develle himself benefited from a similar initiative in 2018 when he received a $3,000 grant to secure his home to its foundation. With the aid of the program, his out-of-pocket expenses were minimal. He said, “For me, this was a no-brainer.”

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has been actively involved in such retrofitting initiatives over the past decade. It estimates that nearly 20,000 homes across the state have been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.

In the current program, the administrators intend to roll out a soft launch, initially offering grants to 375 homes that meet the specific architectural criteria in qualified zip codes. Homeowners who apply from now until the end of May will be included in a lottery system for the grant awards.

Glenn Pomeroy, the CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, warned of the risks for homes that fit the architectural criteria specified in the program. He said, “It’s very common for homes in that category to come tumbling down during earthquakes. It’s a dangerous vulnerability, potentially leading to damage, injury, or worse. Therefore, it’s worth looking into getting your home retrofitted if you have a living space over a garage. Regardless of whether you receive a grant or not, it’s ultimately about making your family safer.”

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