Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Katrina (2005) created insurance chaos from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Insurers were pulling out of coastal areas, premiums and deductibles were increasing, policies were not renewed, and people were building back what was lost in the same way. A group of thought leaders created Smart Home America to solve these problems. Learn more about our history and accomplishments to date. 

The losses of life and property after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, combined with the costly insurance crisis that followed, brought together a diverse group of local citizens in Alabama and Mississippi.

These concerned citizens knew we could not continue business as usual. They were determined to improve local planning practices and educate communities about how to protect their future.

This group identified the IBHS FORTIFIED construction standard as a way to prevent the type of incredible loss they’d seen. They founded Smart Home America, which became the first organization to systematically implement FORTIFIED standards as a solution to natural hazard mitigation.

FORTIFIED has allowed Coastal Alabama to build its way out of the insurance crisis and into a more resilient region. We advocated for improving building codes, the use of beyond code building standards, smart financing solutions, and new policies to strengthen communities.

Partners such as Habitat for Humanity proved that resilience could be achieved affordably and effectively. Our approach changed how communities built and planned for severe weather. 

Our work began over a decade ago in Alabama, which now leads the nation in FORTIFIED construction and is a model for predisaster mitigation planning and development. Currently, we support many other states and communities which look to build resilience on their terms.


  • The group that would become Smart Home America gains momentum and begins increasing awareness of resilience by educating about FORTIFIED standards and stronger building codes and standards.


  • The Alabama Insurance Underwriters Association (AIUA) begins offering discounts for FORTIFIED construction.


  • May - Alabama legislature passes SB 500, providing discounts for FORTIFIED construction to Mobile and Baldwin Counties homeowners.

  • July - Mississippi Windstorm Underwriters Association (MWUA) offers discounts for FORTIFIED construction to coastal homeowners.

  • August - Smart Home America incorporates as a 501(c)(3).


  • IBHS releases FORTIFIED Home™, offering three levels of protection- Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

  • September - First IBHS wind test at Research Center.


  • April - First FORTIFIED Home™ designation in Alabama

  • June- Strengthen Alabama Homes Act (SB 389, 2011) becomes law.


  • April – The first jurisdictions begin to adopt the Coastal Construction Code Supplement.


  • All Habitat for Humanity affiliates along the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast begin building to FORTIFIED Home™ standards.


  • July - The Alabama Department of Insurance increases mandatory minimum discounts for FORTIFIED construction.


  • May - Alabama HB 92 funds the Strengthen Alabama Homes program

  • November - Alabama surpasses 1,000 FORTIFIED designated homes in Mobile and Baldwin County.


  • May - Oklahoma passes HB1720, legislation allowing for mitigation/ FORTIFIED insurance discounts

  • August - Hurricane Harvey makes two landfills, with the latter being a Category 4

  • October - SHA on the ground meeting with Harvey-affected cities - Rockport, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas.

  • November - Key Allegro, a large community with over 800 units in Rockport, TX, adopts the Code Supplement into their neighborhood covenant.

  • SHA worked with Houston and the Texas GLO to successfully add FORTIFIED to the Post-Harvey Action Plans in Texas.


  • July - Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama establishes Resilience Week

  • SHA was awarded an EPA Gulf of Mexico grant to create and pilot a Community Resilience Housing Guide


  • August - Hurricane Laura makes landfall as a Category 4 storm in Cameron, Louisiana

  • September - Hurricane Sally makes landfall as a Category 2 in Gulf Shores, AL

  • IBHS releases that ~95% of the 17,000 FORTIFIED Homes in Baldwin County that endured Hurricane Sally had 0 insurance claims.

  • SHA began registering as a Continuing Education Provider for insurance agents, home builders, and real estate agents.

  • SHA participated in two US Housing and Urban Development task forces, Water and Wind, to help develop their Resiliency Guidelines.


  • October - Hurricane Ida makes landfall as a Category 4 in Southeast Louisiana.

  • IBHS releases FORTIFIED Multifamily™ as a branch of FORTIFIED Commercial™

  • SHA begins providing technical assistance to Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Louisiana to get them to the finish line of a FORTIFIED designation.


  • April - SHA President and CEO Julie Shiyou-Woodard, testified with Commissioner Jim Donelon before the Louisiana House Insurance Committee on HB612.

  • June - HB612, The Louisiana Fortify Homes Program, was passed and signed by the Governor.

  • September - SHA provided technical assistance to the Iowa Economic Development Authority as they included the use of FORTIFIED construction standards in their HUD-approved CDBG-DR Action Plan, becoming the first state to do so.

  • SHA provides technical assistance to the Louisiana Office of Community Development as they now require FORTIFIED Gold™ in all new builds using the Community Block Grant - Disaster Recovery funding for Laura-Delta-Ida.

  • SHA provides technical assistance to the Louisiana Housing Corporation as they now require FORTIFIED Gold as the minimum standard under its new 149 M Prime 2 funding cycle.

  • SHA provides technical assistance to the City of Mobile as they adopt the Coastal Construction Code Supplement and the 2021 IBC and IRC.

Learn about our BRA2C2E® framework for creating resilient communities. 

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