The 2023 Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program application period is now open for applications until February 20th at 5:00 p.m.
The Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program was developed by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to provide a rebate for the purchase and installation of safe rooms for Ohio homeowners.
- Homeowners who are selected and qualify for the rebate program are eligible for a rebate of 75% of the allowable costs that was used to install and construct their safe room, up to a maximum of $4,875. This is a "REBATE" program, only AFTER the installation, construction, and payment of a safe room will selected and qualified applicants be reimbursed for eligible costs.
- Homeowners who have been selected must also be able to attend a mandatory "Safe Room Briefing" meeting to be eligible for the rebate.
Funding for the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program is made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant Program (75%), and homeowner contributions (25%). The Ohio Emergency Management Agency plans to offer this program on an annual basis, contingent upon federal and/or state funding, and conduct a random drawing to create a priority list on an annual basis. The priority list of randomly selected applicants from the drawing will be notified by email. Being on the priority list does not guarantee your participation in the program. When and if funding becomes available, the amount of funding available will determine the number of rebates that will be offered.
About Safe Rooms
For the purposes of this program, the term safe room will include any above or below ground shelter which meets or exceeds FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361 guidelines for building a residential safe room. For more information about safe rooms or to download a copy of FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361, which contains recommended construction plans for safe rooms, visit the FEMA safe room webpage.
Safe rooms save lives. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries. A safe room provides an envelope of near absolute protection for you and your family. Studies demonstrate that a safe room can survive winds as high as 250 miles per hour (Source: FEMA Publication 320).
How the Program Works
Applying ensures you will be considered for the program, but does not guarantee that you will receive a rebate.
To ensure that applications will have an equal chance of being selected, a random drawing process will be utilized. For that reason, the order of registration does not improve the odds of being selected. Only one person may apply per physical house address. Application must be received prior to the application closing date. Once the application has been submitted, you must contact the Ohio EMA Mitigation Branch to make changes to the application.
The randomly selected applications will be notified after the random drawing of their position on the priority list. The priority list will be established numerically based on the randomly selected homeowners. This priority list will be valid until the end of the next annual drawing. The selected applicants on the priority list will be notified of their position on the list via the email address indicated in the application. Please be sure to use an email address that you check regularly. You may also log in to your account at any time to check the status.
Following the establishment of the priority list, applicants will be notified when HMA grant funding becomes available that their application has been selected for the safe room rebate. If HMA grant funding is not secured, no safe room rebates will be awarded.
If Your Application is Selected
If your application is selected, you will have 30 days to confirm that you still wish to participate in the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program. You may choose not to participate at this time, but still be eligible for future selection. You will be withdrawn from the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program if a signed Confirmation of Homeowner Interest form is not received by Ohio EMA within 30 days of your notification of selection.
Once you have confirmed your participation, you will be required to attend a 1 hour participant briefing. The briefing will be scheduled after applicants have had the opportunity to confirm their participation by returning a signed Confirmation of Homeowner Interest form. The briefing will cover program rules and provide an additional opportunity to have your questions answered. This briefing is required to be attended annually, even if you have attended one in a prior year of the program. This is due to annual changes to FEMA guidance and rules of the program. Following the participant briefing you will have 30 days to make a final decision on the type of safe room you are proposing to install. The safe room type selections are: below ground interior, below ground exterior, above ground interior or above ground exterior. You will be withdrawn from the program if the final decision on safe room type is not made within the 30 days after the participant briefing. NO CHANGE to your safe room type can be made after this 30 day deadline.
Following the participant briefing and your safe room type selection, you will be issued a Notice to Proceed. Your Notice to Proceed will include a deadline by which your safe room must be constructed/installed. It is the homeowners' responsibility to hire a qualified contractor/company to install/construct a safe room that meets or exceeds FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361 specifications.
Once you have received your Notice to Proceed you will have 60 days to submit a safe room plan (engineered drawings), a copy of your local building permit, and a copy of your zoning permit (if applicable) to Ohio EMA. You will be withdrawn from the program if a safe room plan and copy of your permit(s) is not received by Ohio EMA within 60 days after the receipt of your Notice to Proceed.
In order to receive the rebate, all documentation below must be submitted to Ohio EMA prior to the date indicated on your Notice to Proceed. In order to receive your rebate, you must submit a certificate of installation signed by a contractor verifying that your safe room meets or exceeds FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361 specifications. An inspection may be required to verify safe room installation/construction on the property. The homeowner must also submit documentation required to verify cost and payment. Required documentation to process your rebate includes but may not be limited to:
- Signed Certificate of Installation,
- Contractor invoice,
- Proof of payment,
- Coordinates for the location of the safe room accurate to +/- 64 feet,
- A local building permit,
- A zoning permit (if required), and
- Before and after photos of the safe room construction site with sufficient background scenery to verify the safe room location on the property.
You cannot receive a rebate before the safe room is installed/constructed. The rebate is only available as a partial reimbursement after construction is completed and you have submitted the required documentation verifying that your safe room meets or exceeds FEMA 320 and/or FEMA 361 specifications. The Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program cannot reimburse for safe rooms constructed prior to the homeowner application being approved by FEMA and Ohio EMA has advised the property owner to proceed with construction/installation.
Any type of safe room is eligible for the rebate, as long as it meets or exceeds the specifications set forth in FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361. The safe room must meet criteria in FEMA Publication 320 and/or FEMA Publication 361, and meet the ICC 500 Standard for the Design and construction of Storm Shelters. In addition, the Residential Building Code of Ohio requires compliance with ICC 500 and a building permit to be issued by any local certified residential building department. If there is no local certified residential building department in your jurisdiction, additional arrangements will be made to have the installation/construction of your safe room inspected by the Ohio Board of Building Standards for compliance with FEMA 320 and/or FEMA 361.
The safe room may be installed in a new or existing home and must be sized for the maximum number of people that could reasonably occupy a residence. The rule commonly applied is two occupants per bedroom. FEMA guidance states a minimum safe room size of three square feet per person, with additional space needed for handicapped occupants. The example minimum safe room size for a typical house would be as follows: 2 occupants x 3 bedrooms x 3 square feet per occupant = 18 square feet minimum. The maximum safe room size will vary with each specific safe room type. Wherever the safe room is installed, it must be readily accessible to all occupants.
To be eligible, the safe room must be installed on property owned by the applicant, and that property must be the applicant's primary residence.
- If you own two or more homes, you may only register for a safe room rebate for your primary residence.
- Apartment complexes, duplexes, and other multi-family residences are not eligible for this rebate, as they are considered businesses. This safe room rebate program is for single-family homes only.
- Community or neighborhood safe rooms are not eligible for this rebate. However, they are eligible for grant programs administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Branch. Please contact the Ohio Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Branch for further details.
- If you live in a mobile home, you must own both the mobile home and the land it is located on to be eligible for the rebate.
- If you live in a rented house you are not eligible for this rebate. Only single-family residential homeowners are eligible to receive the rebate for their primary residence.
- If you have already installed a safe room, or are having it installed now, that safe room is not eligible for this rebate. Previously installed safe rooms are not eligible.
- The retrofit or repair of an existing safe room to meet FEMA specifications is not eligible for this rebate program. However, you may be eligible for a new safe room.
- If your home is in a floodplain and you have flood insurance, you may be eligible for the rebate. You would not be eligible for a below ground safe room, but you may be eligible for an above ground safe room. However, other agencies must first approve your specific situation. You may be required to provide more information if your application is randomly selected.
- If you live on historic property, or in a historic district you may be eligible for the rebate. However, other agencies must first approve your specific situation. You may be required to provide more information if your application is randomly selected.
- If your home was destroyed in a tornado and you plan to rebuild your home in a different location than your previous home you are eligible for this rebate, as long as you are building in Ohio. The home will need to be your primary residence and all other eligibility criteria must be satisfied.
- If your home was destroyed in Ohio and you are rebuilding your home out of state you are not eligible for this rebate.
- You may not build or install the safe room yourself. The 25% homeowner contribution must be in the form of payment to the safe room builder/installer.