A state program offers financial incentives each year to 2,000 California homeowners to retrofit their houses.

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Earthquake Retrofit Program Expands Incentives To More Bay Area Cities

Carrie Hodousek
October 10, 2018 - 10:18 am

Registration is now open to more Bay Area residents for a state supported program that offers financial incentives to protect their homes from earthquake damage.

Earthquake Brace and Bolt, known as EBB, offers up to $3,000 for a homeowner to do a seismic retrofit of their house. For the first time, people living in Alameda, Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Richmond, Burbank and Pomona will be eligible to apply for the grants.

During an earthquake, older homes that are not bolted and braced can slide or topple off their foundations. Adding anchor bolts and plywood in crawl spaces beneath houses will help them on their foundation

"Because these homes were built and designed before seismic codes were adopted throughout the state, they're vulnerable to earthquake ground shaking," said Janiele Maffei, executive director of EBB.

With $3 million in funding from the California Earthquake Authority and $3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, homeowners can enter a drawing to receive one of the 2,000 retrofit grants. 

Patricia Maurice, who offered a tour of her Oakland home on Tuesday, recently had her house retrofitted by EBB.

"As a second generation Californian, I'm familiar with earthquakes," Maurice said. "I became very concerned about the risks, so I applied and I have to say it was very easy. I feel much better doing what I could to protect myself and my house."

The funding comes 150 years after the 1868 Hayward earthquake -— one of the most destructive in state history. The ground shook for 40 seconds. It killed 30 people and damaged hundreds of structures.

Experts believe the next big quake is coming.

"We think that there's about a 1 in 3 chance of a large earthquake occurring on the Hayward Fault in the 30 year period from 2014 to 2043," said Keith Knudsen, deputy director with the Earthquake Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey​.

State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-East Bay) said it's all about where you're located when an earthquake strikes.

"It is being around structures that are unstable, that are going to move. That is what creates the damage in quakes and the injury, so we want to prevent that," Skinner said.

Homes that typically qualify for an EBB retrofit were built before 1980 and include a raised foundation and wood framed walls in the crawl space.

Registration is open through Nov. 13. For more information, visit earthquakebracebolt.com.