OTSUCHI, Iwate — The municipal government here has been hit with dozens of complaints about temporary housing units for evacuees, logging over 50 requests from people wanting to move to other housing units.
The requests coincide with a recent apology from Prime Minister Naoto Kan for failing to keep his promise to make temporary housing available by the Obon holiday season in mid-August for all evacuees affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
“I wish my home were situated near the end of the roadside,” Hiroko Kumagai, who lives in a temporary housing unit in the town’s Kozuchi district, said with a sigh.
Kumagai, 61, lives in the unit with her 64-year-old husband and 88-year-old mother, who uses a wheelchair. Her mother has to move about 30 meters from the unit to get in a car, but the graveled path makes it difficult for her to walk or use her wheelchair.
The temporary housing unit is equipped with two small rooms and a kitchen. One of the rooms is filled with a nursing bed for Kumagai’s mother.
Kumagai has repeatedly asked the town and Iwate Prefecture to find another temporary housing unit for her family, to no avail.
“We want to switch to another temporary house but it is probably not possible,” she said.
Many of the town’s temporary housing units were built on private land in an inland area several kilometers from submerged districts. Some evacuees living in temporary housing want to be near the center of the town while others complain that they cannot go anywhere without a car.
The town is allowing evacuees to switch houses through mutual consent and about 10 families have done so purely via personal connections.
An association of residents to rebuild the town advocates swapping information among residents of temporary housing units with the help of the town itself.
The town’s regional management section is not enthusiastic about directly brokering deals between residents, but says it is studying measures to meet the needs of evacuees.
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(Mainichi Japan) July 23, 2011