Emergency Support Services

BC Housing supports municipalities across the province by coordinating emergency lodging support and group lodging supplies for Emergency Management BC.

Emergency Management BC is the designated provincial agency for supporting local authorities and First Nations communities that are responding to emergencies within the province. BC Housing supports this effort by stockpiling cots and blankets in existing community buildings in case of an emergency. If a community becomes overwhelmed, Emergency Management BC assists with facilitating the provision of the BC Housing resources, supplies or expertise.

Responding to a disaster

When a major disaster strikes, many British Columbians might find themselves displaced from their homes. BC Housing support to the Emergency Support Services Program (ESS - formerly Emergency Social Services) includes:

  • Support the Emergency Support Services branch at the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre / Catastrophic Earthquake Response and Recovery Centre (PECC/CERRC)
  • Manage BC Housing emergency group lodging supplies (cots and blankets) on behalf of EMBC and deploy them as needed during an emergency
  • Work with local authorities to develop medium to longer term housing solutions during the recovery phase
  • Capacity building for both the public and private sector by offering courses through the Rapid Damage Assessment Program
  • Coordination of Damage Assessment support at the Provincial level when the ability of the local community to provide and coordinate their own damage assessment has been exceeded

Learn more about our Emergency Support to Communities .

BC Housing also assists local authorities prepare for emergencies or major disasters by offering courses through the Rapid Damage Assessment Program.

Local Government Tool Kit to Plan and Develop Emergency Lodging

In the event of a catastrophic emergency which displaces hundreds or thousands of residents from their homes, it will likely become necessary to construct temporary emergency shelters and emergency lodging. Cots, blankets and group lodging are only a short-term solution.

As an affected area moves from emergency response to recovery, provisions for longer-term housing options will need to be considered. This housing may be occupied for a period of a few weeks or months or depending on the severity of the emergency, up to five years and possibly longer.

Working with modular and manufactured housing designers, BC Housing has developed a tool kit to support communities province-wide in planning their response to a catastrophic emergency. The Tool Kit to Plan and Develop Emergency Lodging is designed to act as a baseline reference of minimum requirements for use by cities, municipalities, towns and villages in British Columbia, designers and modular home builders. The toolkit provides project specific designs which can be easily compiled in response to the need for post-disaster accommodation.

The decision to deploy these kinds of facilities would be in consultation with the affected local community to determine what form the new community will take.  There will be a certain amount of site preparation that would need to take place, but in most cases, companies can start producing modular structures within a few weeks.

Communities are encouraged to utilize the Site Selection recommendations in the Tool Kit to undertake some preliminary investigations and earmark potential sites for emergency lodging use prior to being required.

Emergency Lodging Property Management Companies

As a result of a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, major flood or wildfire whereby large numbers of citizens are left without housing, emergency lodging facilities may be built by BC Housing or other agencies and organizations.

With the construction and delivery of emergency lodging to a community as part of their recovery plan, there would be a need for coordination and management. These buildings could be treated as rental accommodation for the community members as they establish their new normal. To that end, there would also be a need for help to manage potentially thousands or tens of thousands of rental units.

In 2016, BC Housing distributed a request for interest to organizations to see who might be in a position to assist with the property management functions at emergency lodging facilities if they became required. These organizations would take on paid positions as property managers and site staff, to assist in screening and placing tenants, signing tenancy agreements, rent collections and maintenance/response, much like a conventional building manager. Some of the responsibilities could include:

  • Short-notice provision of property management and site staff
  • Selection, screening and placement of tenants
  • Complete and maintain Residential Tenancy Agreements
  • Collect rental payments
  • Maintain sites and health and safety standards
  • 24/7 site management response

Several organizations responded, and have been included in a list identifying potential assistance for catastrophic emergency lodging planning.

Recovery: Long-term housing

BC Housing administers a centralized database of applicants in search of affordable housing called The Housing Registry. Applications are generally processed in chronological order. However, when a disaster (for example, fire, flood, etc.) occurs, evacuee applications are prioritized. Eligible evacuees are added to the database and considered for vacancies along with all other applicants. However, as the demand for housing exceeds the supply, there is no guarantee that a household will receive housing immediately, and evacuees are encouraged to continue to pursue their own housing options.

Want more information on housing options during an emergency? Consult the Emergency Shelter Program - Framework , or talk to someone at The Housing Registry. Call 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756.