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Performance of HUD-Assisted Properties During the January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake

Release Date: 
August 1994 (65 pages)
Posted Date:   
August 1, 1994

This report examines damage to HUD-affiliated multifamily housing from the Northridge Earthquake, which registered a wave magnitude of 6.8. Sixty-nine HUD-affiliated sites, totaling 425 multi-family buildings and over 10,000 living units, were visually examined from the exterior and the interior. Buildings were selected based on distance from the epicenter and the amount of damage. Three percent were severely damaged. Most other buildings suffered cracks to interior and exterior wall surfaces, are minor and cosmetic, but nonetheless, expensive to repair. The study found no strong relationship between the level of structural or nonstructural damage and the building age, height or distance from the epicenter. However, the data sample was limited by the number of buildings studied, their variety of type and condition, and the technique used to assess damage. The report suggests several actions that HUD may want to take: 1) studying the cost of repairing earthquake-induced damage in residential buildings; 2) collecting information on a statistically-valid sample of residential structures in the affected area; 3) including information on physical characteristics of buildings in HUD program files; 4) encouraging implementation of known simple and effective earthquake loss-reduction measures in HUD-affiliated buildings; 5) supporting the development of improved construction materials, techniques, and practices; 6) assessing the accuracy of currently available seismic evaluation and rehabilitation techniques; 7) evaluating the cost effectiveness of pre-earthquake seismic rehabilitation; and 8) studying the social and economic costs of requiring more stringent earthquake design and construction requirements.