Pilot Program Aims to Retrofit Portland’s Older Homes

Seismically retrofitting your home can be expensive. Fortunately, a new pilot program in Portland aims to ease a majority of the costs for homeowners.


Earthquake damage in Santa Cruz, CA
(photo by USGS)



Earthquake damage in Santa Cruz, CA
(photo by USGS)

Most people think the buildings in Portland vulnerable to earthquakes are larger, unreinforced masonry buildings (URM) built between the 1840s and 1930s; yet, in all reality houses built before 1974 are unlikely to have been bolted to their foundation, thus likely to be damaged in a major earthquake. With an estimated 100,000 houses in Portland not bolted to their foundation, homeowners are jumping at the chance to take advantage of this opportunity.

The growing concern for preventing a potential disaster led Commissioner Steve Novick and US Representative Earl Blumenauer to announce last week a $100,000 pilot project that will give 30 Portland homeowners access to FEMA funds to complete seismic retrofits to their home. In fact, the idea of FEMA funding was explored by Restore Oregon in 2012. The process for bolting houses to their foundation is astonishingly simple and can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $25,000. Luckily, this pilot project will pay for roughly 75% of the homeowner’s seismic retrofit costs. The pilot project is currently full, but Novick hopes to get additional federal funding to expand the project to include 1,000s of homes within the next few years.

Since last fall Novick has been looking into creating an ordinance and adjusting the City’s seismic code to require older structures to be seismically retrofitted. Seismically retrofitting a home is simple; unfortunately, the costs can be high. Restore Oregon encourages homeowners to take advantage of pilot programs like this and educate themselves on the importance of retrofitting their older home.

Full story found on the Portland Mercury.

For more information please call 1-855-870-0049 or email at and Clean Energy Works can help answer any questions regarding the pilot status or how they can help outside the pilot.

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2 Responses to Pilot Program Aims to Retrofit Portland’s Older Homes

  1. susan hunt July 7, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    I have a 1919 craftsman bungalow in the Vernon neighborhood. I’d really like to participate in this pilot program when a slot opens up if it’s still active.

    Thank you!

    • Denise Bartelt July 8, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Susan,

      We are not running the program and the pilot was over a while ago. I’m not sure if or when the program might be launched, but we will definitely announce it if it goes forward. Many of us own homes of the same vintage as yours!

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