San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin has been awarded a $2.9 million federal grant to help raise the foundations of 16 homes in Marin. The 16 houses were determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be at high-risk of natural disaster-based flooding.
A home in the Santa Venetia neighborhood of unincorporated San Rafael undergoes an elevation project to help prevent flooding.
The funding comes from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which selects projects that meet strict criteria for sustainable and cost-effective efforts to reduce communities’ losses from natural hazards. In this case, elevating houses above the projected flood level has been shown to successfully fill gaps in community-wide resiliency to flooding damages and create safer and more sustainable neighborhoods.
As per the parameters of the federal grant, the $2.9 million covers up to 75% of the $3.9 million that the 16 home elevation projects are preliminarily estimated to cost. The specific scope of work varies by structure but requires that the finished floor be raised at least 1 foot above FEMA’s base flood elevation. The method of elevation depends on foundation type and may necessitate detaching utilities and other connections, lifting the home, and rebuilding or adding to the foundation.
In 2016, the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) approached the HMGP opportunity as a pilot program for the county. Hundreds of Marin homeowners expressed to DPW an interest in home elevation assistance, but only 16 homes could fit within the grant funding cap. The HMGP review process included complex environmental and historical review of the houses, which are located in Kentfield, Ross, Black Point, Santa Venetia, Tam Valley, and Greenbrae Boardwalk.
Depending on the success of the projects under the pilot program, an ongoing home elevation assistance program could become a cost-effective tool to increase public safety, sustainability and socioeconomic equity in Marin’s communities. The ongoing program would target low- to moderate-income homeowners and, in the case of rental properties, landlords would be required to lease to low- to moderate-income tenants.