DSWD Emergency Shelter Assistance

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) began its shelter assistance project in the late 1970s via the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program to repair damaged houses of family victims of a disaster or calamity.

The ESA program was made possible by the passage of Republic Act No. 7279 or the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Program, which was signed into law on February 15, 1987, by President Corazon Aquino. The ESA program provided temporary shelter for families affected by disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The program also provided immediate relief to families affected by disasters through food rations and medical assistance.

Also Read: What is DSWD AICS Program – Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations

This is especially important for us in the Philippines as a country known as one of the disaster-prone areas in the region. Keep reading to learn more about the DSWD program.

dswd emergency shelter assistance program

What is DSWD Emergency Shelter Assistance?

Super typhoon “Sisang” hit the Philippines in 1987, leaving around 200,000 families homeless. Following the disaster, the DSWD established a program to provide low-cost housing to the affected families.

In 1988, a comprehensive program was formulated to implement the guidelines for rehabilitating the victims of typhoons and other disasters. This project, known as the Core Shelter Assistance Project, was eventually updated in 1989.

The guidelines provided the necessary structural requirements for the construction of core shelters. They also laid out the various components of the project’s implementation.

The DSWD Core Shelter Design was presented with the World Habitat Award in 1991 for its environmentally-friendly construction. This organization, which advocates for hazard-resistant building materials, recognized the design’s strength.

During the 2000 armed conflict in the Philippines, about 10,000 families were left homeless. The DSWD provided financial and material assistance to construct new housing units using locally-produced materials. Unlike the previous one, this program considered the cultural designs of the beneficiaries and the participating families.

The Shelter Assistance Project shall have the following Components:

A. Social Preparation – This component aims to provide or improve beneficiaries’ awareness of their situation, the need for the project, the kind of involvement they can provide, and the importance of their participation.

A composite team composed of C/MSWDOs, DSWD-SWAD, PNP, or a local NGO (if available) would review the circumstances of intended beneficiaries and validate their eligibility for housing assistance on the barangay’s final list.

The C/MSWDOs should ensure that all eligible beneficiaries get a “Disaster Family Access Card.”

C/MSWDOs are required to carry out social preparation activities for beneficiaries, the community, local governments, and non-governmental organizations. The DSWD Field Office must develop the final list of beneficiaries based on the validation performed by the composite team.

To strengthen community organization and stimulate community formation, C/MSWDOs should recruit beneficiaries into a Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance (NASA) with a maximum of 30 members. The monetary rewards must be deposited into a bank account in the name of the NASA Organization, with signatures from the NASA President and Treasurer, the Municipal Social Welfare Officer, and any member of the DSWD SWAD Team. (This applies to DSWD Field Offices with SWAD Teams.)

NASA should form a committee in charge of soliciting, marketing, procuring, and overseeing shelter construction materials.

The beneficiaries should sign a contract with the DSWD and the LGUs stating that the former will not sell, rent, or mortgage the property and will furnish labor for the construction of their home (applicable for shelter aid and core help only) (Applicable only for shelter and essential support)

B. Food I Monetary-for-Work Aid – The provision of food or cash assistance to catastrophe victims or displaced people in exchange for their services or participation in restoration and rehabilitation activities.

Food or cash assistance to meet the needs of beneficiaries and their families through the Food/Cash-for-Work (F/CFW) program at a rate of 75% of the daily regional wage, value of either cash or food/family/day for a maximum of 10 days with 25% as beneficiary equity; however, the daily payment will only be granted to families who work at least eight hours per day.

Through a “Bayanihan Scheme,” F/CFW assistance shall be provided to all beneficiaries of ESA / MSA / CSA organized into NASA with a maximum of 30 members as food or cash support for a maximum of 10 days while participating in community activities such as cleaning of drainage, repairing of community facilities, houses, and construction of Shelter. Only one (1) individual per household may benefit from or use the C/ FFW assistance.

C. Technical Assistance in Housing Construction – This refers to providing beneficiaries and LGUs with orientation, demonstration, assistance, and monitoring in the execution of shelter units in line with the permitted shelter plan and specification.

A DSWD Engineer (CO or Field Office) shall give technical assistance by orienting, and showing the Provincial/City/Municipal Engineer, Foreman or skilled worker, and beneficiaries the construction of the core shelter model house to ensure conformance with the standard shelter design.

D. Financial Support – The provision of limited financial assistance to cover the cost of housing materials to satisfy the basic housing needs of families whose houses have been destroyed by natural disasters.

The amount of the DSWD shelter or core shelter support grant must be determined by the Secretary in consultation with the appropriate internal and external stakeholders. It must be adjusted regularly based on the current cost of construction materials.

Legal Basis

1. Presidential Decree (PD) 1566 (dated June 11, 1978) – “Strengthening of the Philippine Disaster Control, Capability and Establishing the National program on Community Disaster Preparedness

2. DSWD Administrative Order 76, Series of 1988 – Implementing Guidelines for Core Shelter Assistance Pilot Project for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Typhoon “Sisang” and other Disasters

3. DSWD Administrative Order 101, Series of 1989 Amendment of Administrative Order Number 76, Series of 1988 – Implementing Guidelines for Core Shelter

4. Republic Act 8185 – Amends section 324 of the Local Government Code Authorizing the local government units to declare a state of calamity and use of 5% of its budget for disaster management

5. Republic Act (RA) 7160 The Local Government Code of 1991 supports the goals and objectives of the disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation programs. The law strengthens local autonomy thru devolution of the basic services functions of the national agencies to the LGUs.

6. Executive Order No. 15, Series of 1998 – “Redirecting the functions and Operations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development”.

7. DSWD Administrative Order Number 15, Series of 2008 – Guidelines on the Implementation of the Cash-for-Work (CFW) Project

8. Republic Act No. 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010) – An Act Strengthening the Philippine Risk Reduction and Management System, Providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, Appropriating Funds Therefore and for Other Purposes


Cash Assistance

  • P30,000 to typhoon victims with totally-damaged houses
  • P10,000 to families with partially-damaged houses
  • Food/Cash-for-Work Assistance
  • Technical Assistance in House Construction
  • Financial Assistance:
    • Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance
    • Partnership with Private Sectors, NGOs and Gas in coordination with LGUs
    • Funds to the LGUs

The DSWD has a number of projects and activities that are aimed at helping people in need. These include:

– Direct cash pay-out to families with serious illnesses and disabilities;

– Direct check pay-out to senior citizens;

– Tap-up with Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) cash card holders; and

– Mobilize existing and available service providers like Palawan, Cebuana, GCash, among others. Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) to repair damaged houses of family victims of disaster.


  1. Families whose house have been totally destroyed by a man-made or natural disaster
  2. Not a recipient of any other housing assistance from any other individual groups or agency government or non-government for the disaster in question.
  3. Families included in the LGU master list based on the issued DSWD Disaster Assistance family Access Card (DAFAC)


Here are the eligibility requirements based on the criteria and recommendation of the City / Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officers (G/MSWDOs) following a set of criteria provided by DSWD through this guideline and validated by the DSWD Field Offices.

Prioritization is determined based on criteria indicated in this guideline considering the funds available.

A. Beneficiaries:

  • Family is not a recipient of any other housing assistance from any other individual groups or agency government or non-government for the disaster in question.
  • Monthly income of a family of 6 should be below the food threshold that is P10, 936.00 in urban areas and P9, 767.00 in rural areas based on the NSCB poverty statistic report dated March 2, 2007. The family monthly income rate shall be adjusted from time to time depending on the food threshold rate report of the NSCB.
  • House should have been totally destroyed by a man-made or natural disaster; and limited resources prevents the family from repairing or reconstructing their permanent shelter units such that they continue to live with relatives or friends in evacuation centers, or in other makeshift shelters.
  • Possession of a guarantee of ownership or permanent or long term occupancy of at least 10 years on the lot on which to build the permanent shelter unit.
  • If resources warrants, vulnerable families residing in high risk areas maybe provided or may avail of shelter assistance as part of mitigation measures.

The following shall be considered priority for assistance indicated;

  • Families with small children.
  • Families with pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • Surrogate parents of orphaned children living in evacuation centers who are equally situated e.g. with totally damaged shelter units.
  • Families with damaged houses whose head of household died or were incapacitated as a result of the disaster.

Priority will be given to beneficiaries who meet the geographical clustering requirement in a specific barangay with at least 5 beneficiaries living in proximity with each other to promote collective actions in realizing goals of the project and easy delivery of housing materials.

Families with seriously ill members or persons with disabilities or with special needs. (Persons are considered with special needs if they have physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive or emotional impairment or limiting conditions that require medical management, health care interventions, and /or use of specialized services or programs).

B. Areas

The area where the house will be built is not prone to hazards and certified as a safe area by DENR- Mines and Geo-Science Bureau (MGB), DOSTsPHILVOCS/PAGASA;

Area should have access to transportation.

A minimum of 60 sq. meter home lot / shelter unit shall be allotted in the resettlement areas and space for path walks and other community facilities shall be provided.

Documentary Requirements

Requirements for LGUs Requesting for Shelter Assistance

  1. Disaster Terminal Report Contents:
    • Brief situationer (covering from time of disaster to date of report)
    • Nature and date of occurrence
    • Areas and population affected
    • Damage to the population and community
    • Services extended – by whom / where / when
    • Brief description of strategies used, strength and weaknesses of the operation, actions taken and recommendation for future action.
  2. Rehabilitation Plan for the affected families/communities;
  3. Project Proposal describing the rehabilitation project and specific counter-part of LGUs and time line for shelter implementation;
  4. Copy of notarized deed of donation / documents attesting the availability of sites / lot for shelter project (applicable for MSA/ CSAP).
  5. Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Resolution approving / endorsing the proposed housing project.
  6. Certification from the LGUs Treasurer on the availability of calamity fund to be use as a counter-part for the rehabilitation project, (applicable for MSA/CSAP)
  7. Master list of the proposed beneficiaries based on the family access cards with individual picture of the family heads prepared by the C/ MSWDOs and certified by the C/ Municipal Shelter Committee;
  8. Certification issued by DENR – Mines and Geo-Science Bureau (MGB), DOSTs PHILVOCS/PAG-ASA
  9. Formal endorsement of the Field Office or DSWD-ARMM for ARMM areas

The ESA will be distributed via direct cash payout to beneficiaries through authorized Special Disbursing Officers (SDO) of concerned DSWD Field Offices (FOs).

Video: CamSur lumapit sa DSWD, NHA para sa emergency shelter assistance

In 2020, the local government of Camarines Sur has approached two government agencies to help its residents whose homes were damaged in the wake of Hurricane Rolly to provide emergency assistance. Watch the video above to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is emergency shelter assistance of DSWD?

The DSWD is providing financial assistance to families whose houses were damaged due to the typhoon. The agency will provide them with P10,000 to purchase construction materials.

2. Why is emergency shelter important?

This project aims to provide a secure and healthy environment for vulnerable individuals while protecting them from various risks, such as abuse and exploitation. It also aims to help them access their needed services and improve their living conditions.

3. What is the meaning of “house should have been totally destroyed by a man-made or natural disaster”?

The house should have been completely destroyed due to a natural or man-made disaster. Unfortunately, due to limited resources, the family can’t afford to fix or reconstruct their permanent shelter units. They’re forced to live with friends or relatives in temporary shelters.

4. What is shelter assistance?

The objective is to provide financial and material assistance to families in the construction of houses, but with modifications that are more appropriate for the local political and cultural context. This program also aims to address the structural design of the houses.

5. What is limited housing?

To help families whose houses have been damaged, the government provides financial assistance and limited housing materials. However, these are usually accompanied by safety requirements.

6. What is the meaning of “impact”?

A serious disturbance to the functioning of a society or community, which involves widespread human, material, environmental, or economic losses, can exceed the capacity of its members or the society to cope with its own resources.

7. How many shelter units per cluster?

If you are planning on providing resettlement lots, make sure that they are available for at least five shelter units per cluster. These units should be certified by scientific agencies to be safe.

8. What is the purpose of the Local Government Code of 1991?

The 1991 Local Government Code provides for the establishment of effective disaster mitigation and preparedness programs. It also allows local governments to delegate the basic services functions of their national agencies.


The Philippines, being one of the countries that are frequently hit by calamities throughout the year, benefits greatly from the DSWD’s Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) because the program provides immediate relief to the victims of natural disasters. The DSWD’s Emergency Shelter Assistance is a government program that provides temporary shelter and housing units to those who were affected by calamities. It also complements other disaster management programs in order to mitigate against the effects of disasters.

Through the agency’s partnership with LGUs, the DSWD’s Emergency Shelter Assistance was able to provide temporary shelter and housing units for the victims of natural disasters. The DSWD also ensures that the beneficiaries of its program are provided with livelihood opportunities to continue supporting their families after the emergency period.

We hope that you’ve learned a lot about the agency’s program for disaster victims and how it works. If you ever need help in case of emergency, please don’t hesitate to contact the DSWD through your respective LGU. The DSWD’s hotline numbers are available on their website and in the hotline directory in your local government office.