ABAG FAQs and Retrofit Resources

How to Pay for a Retrofit

Home equity loans are available from banks. A five-year loan from a bank for $5,000 for 5 years at 9% will cost you about $104 a month, far less than putting this home strengthening on your credit card. In addition, the following sources of government-supported funding are some of the sources of money available to fixed-income homeowners. In addition, many cities and counties have funds available if you contact the city (or county) housing department.
(1) GRANTS AND LOANS from Individual Local Governments
(2) FINANCIAL INCENTIVES for property owners in the City of Oakland
(3) FINANCIAL INCENTIVES for property owners in the City of Berkeley


Neighborhood Housing Preservation and Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program Offices of most cities and counties in the Bay Area offer low-cost loans and grants to low- and fixed-income homeowners for this type of work. The source of the funds are their Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the federal government. Program requirements and funds available vary.


In July 2007, Oakland joined Berkeley to offer financial incentives to owners of homes in the City. The program has two parts:

1 - a fixed building permit fee of $250 for seismic retrofits of homes.

2 - a rebate of up to 0.5% of the City's property transfer tax if the funds are to be used for qualified retrofit projects.

For more information on these incentives, see the City of Oakland WEB SITE on this program.


Berkeley's Seismic Retrofit Incentive Program is an award-winning local government program offering financial incentives to owners of properties in the City. The program includes:
1 - a waiver of building permit fees for all qualified retrofit projects
2 - a rebate of up to one-third of the City's 1.5% property transfer tax if the funds are used for qualified retrofit projects.


The ABAG Finance Authority For Nonprofit Corporations (the "Authority") is a Joint Powers Agency formed to help eligible nonprofits and other borrowers to gain access to tax-exempt debt financing. The Authority simplifies the debt issuance process for both the borrower and the jurisdiction in which the borrower is located by issuing conduit tax-exempt bonds or certificates of participation to finance projects with demonstrated public benefit. The Authority has financed projects on behalf of:
- hospitals;
- health care clinics;
- retirement facilities;
- nonprofit housing developers;
- multifamily housing partnerships;
- private schools;
- behavioral health care agencies;
- substance abuse facilities; and
- community service organizations.

Projects financed by the Authority have involved facility acquisition and rehabilitation, equipment acquisition, and new construction. The Authority is one of several of ABAG's financial service programs, which currently provide an aggregate of approximately $300 million to approximately 50 projects annually. However, these programs do not have any capacity limits on either the dollar amount of an individual financing project or the number of projects financed.

The Authority is managed by ABAG for member jurisdictions throughout the State of California and will only issue debt for projects located in those member jurisdictions. Any local jurisdiction in the state may become a member. Proposed projects must have the support of the member jurisdiction in which they are located.

One program of the Authority provides tax-exempt financing for the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of multifamily and senior housing, to California 501 (c)(3) nonprofit housing developers, partnerships and for-profit entities with public benefit projects (such as affordable housing). Consistent with ABAG's long standing commitment to policy supporting affordable housing, the primary goals for this program are to provide low-cost financing for smaller urban projects and an efficient competitive lending vehicle for larger developments.

In March 1999, the Authority issued $23 million in Revenue Certificates of Participation for Channing House, a nonprofit corporation which owns an 11-story building in Palo Alto, California. The building contains 232 Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) apartment units and seven rooms for skilled nursing services with 21 beds. The 232 RCFE units consist of 32 assisted-living units, 98 studio units, 89 one-bedroom units, and 12 two-bedroom units. By going through the Authority, the interest rate was only 5.25%. The funds are being spent for seismic strengthening of the building, as well as for installation of an additional freight elevator. The seismic retrofit involves putting the building on seismic isolators that reduce the earthquake forces transmitted up into the building. This retrofit design was chosen to minimize the construction disruption to the elderly occupants of the building.

For more information on this program, click here.


ABAG, the Association of Bay Area Governments, is the regional planning and services agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

This page was last updated 11/5/07 by kgp