Shake, rattle, enroll: Homeowners can now apply for earthquake retrofit grants

Earthquake Brace + Bolt (via YouTube)

Want to retrofit your home for the next big earthquake but facing difficulties with financing? The state is now taking grant applications to help.

Now in its fourth year, the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program gives eligible homeowners up to $3,000 toward the work, which usually costs an average of $5,000.

The project involves installing new bolts that anchor the wooded part of the house to its concrete foundation, and reinforcing short stud walls around the crawl space. This aims to prevent a home from sliding off or crashing down on top of its foundation. The video below illustrates how it works.


Costs in Northern California tend to be higher than Southern California, said Janiele Maffei, a structural engineer and the executive director of the program.

This year, there's enough money to help out 2,000 property owners statewide. That's 400 more than last year's program, but there's still a long way to go to make every home in California safe.

"We find that over a million homes throughout California in just areas of high hazard — so that's along the coastline — have this particular vulnerability, so it's a significant problem for California. And because the majority of our population lives in areas of high hazard, of course, it means the state of California really has a significant problem in future earthquakes," Maffei said.

The 2017 budget for the program is $6 million. Half of that comes from the California Earthquake Authority and the other half from the state's general fund. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian both worked to secure that state funding for the second year running, said Maffei. Nazarian, a Democrat, represents California's 46th Assembly district, which covers Studio City, Valley Glen and other San Fernando Valley communities.

“Expanding the Brace + Bolt program to 1,000 new homes is an important step forward in preparing California for a large earthquake,” Nazarian said in a press release. 

Homeowners must apply for the grant and meet a set of criteria to be eligible. Then, applicants are chosen at random to receive the grant. Here are some quick facts on eligibility:

Applications are open until February 27.