California residents can get up to $3000 from state program for earthquake retrofits

Josue Torres
(Canva Pro)

Thanks to a state program that has recently expanded its reach, more Californians can now apply for grants of up to $3,000 to retrofit their homes in preparation for the next quake.

Residents who reside in 521 ZIP codes will now be eligible for funds from the Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program; this is an increase of 126 ZIP codes from the previous year. 

In order to decrease earthquake-related property damage, the California Earthquake Authority and the governor’s Office of Emergency Services established the initiative in 2014. Up until November 29th, registration is available.

According to the program organizers, the ZIP codes are chosen using the state’s seismic risk map from the United States Geological Survey. According to the program’s executive director and chief mitigation officer, Janiele Maffei, additional money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will enable the program to almost treble the number of properties retrofitted in California.

Since 2014, more than 17,500 homes have received subsidies overall, according to officials. With the increased cash for this year, the program wants to distribute at least 15,000 grants among more than 500 ZIP codes across the whole state.
(Canva Pro)

Homes that are at risk were often constructed before 1980, have a crawl space under them, and are not adequately braced to their foundations. Instead, according to Maffei, the house is joined together by short, flimsy stud walls that may collapse under the weight of an earthquake.

Going in and securing the home to the foundation with new anchor bolts between the wood and concrete components of the structure is what Maffei described as the retrofit’s primary task.

On average, the procedure takes two to three days to complete and costs $5,200 across the state.

Here are the requirements for the grant and instructions on how to apply:

Who is eligible?

For the grant to be awarded to you, you must:

  • Own the single-family house you want to renovate and reside there.
  • Be a resident of a ZIP code that is a part of the program. On the program’s website, you may input your ZIP code to determine whether you’re eligible.
  • Own a house that was constructed prior to 1980.
  • Own a house with a crawl space under the first floor or a raised foundation.
  • Have built your house on level ground or a slight incline.
  • Prior to being accepted into the program, no building activity had begun or a permit had been obtained.

According to Maffei, the initiative is currently only renovating single-family homes and is attempting to get funding to extend to multifamily dwellings.
(Courtesy of Brace + Bolt)

Additional funds

For homes income $72,080 or less, the program is also providing extra funds that may cover the whole cost of the retrofit. With a few exceptions, these funds are not taxable and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis (unlike the standard grant). Depending on the type of retrofit the house requires (bolt-only or a brace plus bolt retrofit) and in which part of California the beneficiaries live, the amount of money they get will vary.

Northern Californians can be eligible for a larger payout than Southern Californians.

In addition to completing the usual application and selecting “yes” to the question about eligibility based on income, qualified homeowners can apply for the supplemental grant. 

You will be informed if you are eligible to apply for the supplemental grant once you have been accepted into the regular program. You will also need to complete income verification papers for each member of your household.


California residents can apply to the program by responding to a series of questions about their house and place of residence on their website. Also, by contacting the program’s customer service department at 877–232–4300, and by sending an email to requesting a paper registration form.

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