Building Wildfire Resilient Neighborhoods
Last month, James Gore wrote a piece for Calmatters.org about how California lawmakers are providing homeowners easier access to the funds necessary to protect their homes against devastating wildfires. Gore is intimately familiar with the destruction wildfires have caused over the last few years, as the National Chair of the Resilient Counties Advisory Board for the National Association of Counties and member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
According to Gore, in 2017 alone wildfires racked up a $12 million bill for the state of California. More than 40 lives lost due to the fire. During the 2017 Santa Rosa fires, 97% of the homes that were destroyed were built before fire-resistant measures were commonly used in construction, underscoring the importance of wildfire resilience measures.
Legislating Access to Fire Resilience
Lawmakers are seeing the importance of providing easy access to the funds required to make homes in California more fire resilient, and are taking action with the passing of the Wildfire Safety Finance Act. This piece of legislation will allow more California homeowners access to PACE financing and make the fire safety upgrades necessary to protect their homes and their families.
What Is Fire Resilience?
At Renew Financial, we are no strangers to wildfire destruction. Last year, our CEO Cisco Devries watched as the Ferguson Fire reached his doorstep. Providing PACE financing to help build stronger, more resilient communities for homeowners in California is a top priority for Renew. So what are some of the upgrades you can make to your home, and how can you use PACE financing to pay for it?
Fire resilience or fire hardening is the process of finding the vulnerable (and flammable) areas of your home and making them more fire-resistant. Home improvements can include, but is not limited to:
- Replacing roofing shingles with non-flammable materials
- Upgrading to double pane windows
- Using fire-resistant materials for decks, patios & fences
- Acquiring shovels, fire extinguishers & other fire extinguishing tools
Preventing any wildfire embers from blowing into your home via your garage and the vents is the primary concern when it comes to fire hardening. So is removing any flammable materials. Unpredictable winds mean a wildfire can be a threat to your home, even if the flames are a considerable distance from your property.
Creating a fire resilient “defensible” barrier around your home is also key to preventing wildfire damage. Ready for Wildfire is the go-to resource for homeowners looking to do everything they can to keep the flames away from their home.
Wildfire Resilience & PACE Financing
These fire hardening upgrades can now be financed here in California — the birthplace of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Through PACE financing, you may be able to borrow 100% of the upfront costs of eligible upgrades (or up to 20% of the value of your home). After your resilience upgrades are completed, your low fixed interest rate payments will come in the form of a line item on your property taxes.
Safer Homes, Safer Communities
Thousands of Californians are still picking up the pieces from wildfires of the past. Let’s take the opportunity to learn from the previous devastation, and to create a safer future for our families and our communities. Harden your home against the threat of another dry wildfire season, without sacrificing your financial security. If you have questions, Renew Financial has answers!