temporary housing

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Rent-free housing scheme for Fukushima evacuees to be extended for another year, fukushima minpo, 7/16/2016

The Fukushima prefectural government has decided to extend the current rent-free housing program for evacuees from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster for another year until the end of March 2018. The decision was taken on July 15 at a meeting of the prefecture’s task force for the promotion of post-disaster reconstruction held at the prefectural government office in Fukushima city.

Under the program, evacuees are provided free of charge with temporary public housing built for them or with leased private-sector accommodation. Subject to the scheme are evacuated residents in 10 municipalities which have evacuation zones set up after the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant or where evacuation orders have been lifted. But the town of Naraha, one of the municipalities, has chosen not to extend the program and will instead consider whether to continue offering free housing on an individual basis depending on progress in the acquisition of permanent homes.

The decision to prolong the program for the fifth time was based on the prefectural government’s judgment that it needs to be extended for another year because of differences in the timing of the evacuation order being lifted and progress in the construction of permanent public housing for evacuees as well as progress in the building and repair of homes.

The 10 municipalities covered by the program are the whole areas of five towns — Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie — and two villages — Katsurao and Iitate — as well as limited areas of Minamisoma city, Kawamata town and Kawauchi village. In Minamisoma, the program applies only to evacuees from “difficult-to-return” and “residency-restricted” zones plus a zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order. In Kawamata, it applies to those from residency-restricted and preparation zones while in Kawauchi, it covers evacuees from the Kainosaka and Hagi areas of the Shimokawauchi district.

The prefectural government is to consider whether to extend the program again beyond March 2018 for nine of the municipalities, except for Naraha, while watching how soon the evacuation order will be removed.


Iitate fully reopens village office after 5-year hiatus since nuke disaster, fukushima minpo, 7/2/2016

The village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture fully reopened its office on July 1 for the first time in about five years since the entire village was evacuated following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“We would like to do our best to have as many villagers as possible return home permanently,” Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno said, pledging to accelerate reconstruction at a ceremony held at the village office to mark the relocation of office functions from a temporary office in Iino-machi, Fukushima city.

After the ceremony, village office employees had a commemorative group photo taken against the backdrop of the office, holding works of penmanship by calligrapher Masatsugu Saito of Fukushima city, who heads the “Soryukai” group of calligraphy lovers. The works read in Japanese: “The sun also rises over the village of ‘madei’,” “gratitude,” “leap” and “heart.” The term “madei” means living with a pure, sincere heart in harmony with nature, leading a “slow life” as advocated by the village mayor.

In April 2014, the village partially resumed office functions in Iitate, limiting them to reconstruction response and two other sections. Despite the resumption of a full range of office duties, the Iino-machi office will remain as a branch to support evacuees and offer some over-the-counter services.

On July 1, registered residents also launched long-term temporary lodging at their evacuated homes in preparation for the lifting of an evacuation order set for March 31, 2017. Subject to the action are 5,917 residents of 1,770 households in two village areas — a residency-restricted zone and a zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order. Of the total, 193 people of 83 families have registered for the temporary stay scheme as of June 30.

65% of evacuees in rent-free housing outside Fukushima hope to stay on, fukushima minpo, 3/26/15

A Fukushima prefectural government survey of living conditions of evacuees from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident has found that 65% of evacuee families living in rent-free housing outside the prefecture hope to continue residing outside Fukushima even after April 2017 when the free housing scheme is to be terminated.

According to the interim results of the survey announced on March 25, about 12,600 evacuee families live in temporary public and other free housing provided by the local government in and outside the prefecture. Questionnaires were sent to 4,630 families within the prefecture and 5,308 outside excluding Niigata Prefecture, with 6,091 households or 61.3% of the total sending back replies by the end of February.

Of 3,186 families outside the prefecture that responded, 65% said they would continue living outside of Fukushima in and after April next year, and only 18% said they would choose to return to Fukushima.

’11 Tohoku disaster-displaced to remain in shelters up to 10 years, study finds, japan times, 3/7/2016

link to original article: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/07/national/social-issues/11-tohoku-disaster-displaced-remain-shelters-10-years-study-finds/#.Vt0Ishge5sp

Some of the people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan will have to stay in temporary housing up to 10 years after the disaster, a Kyodo News survey found Sunday.

Around 59,000 people, many of whom are elderly, were still living in the prefabricated makeshift housing in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures as of late January, although the number has decreased by almost half from its peak. The country will mark the fifth anniversary of the disaster on Friday.

Forty-six municipalities in the northeastern prefectures were asked when they expected the evacuees to leave the housing complexes.

One municipality — the town of Otsuchi, Iwate, where nearly 2,900 people, a quarter of the town’s total population, are still living in temporary housing — said it would be around March 2021 at the earliest.

Devastated by tsunami on March 11, 2011, the town has been working on moving people to higher ground, but it has faced difficulty finding appropriate land, the office said.

Many other polled municipalities said it would take until 2019 to complete the transfer of evacuees from makeshift housing.

A total of 17 local governments said they could not make any forecast, including 11 in Fukushima, where the ongoing crisis at a tsunami-hit nuclear plant forced some residents to leave their homes.

After the 1995 massive earthquake that struck Kobe and other western Japan areas, it took five years for all the evacuees to leave their makeshift shelters.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the central government underscoring that the event will be an opportunity to show the world Japan has rebuilt from the 2011 calamity that left over 15,000 people dead or missing.


Loneliness grows as 3/11 evacuees vacate temporary housing, japan times, 12/20/2015

Even though the tens of thousands of evacuees from the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing Fukushima nuclear disaster are still living in temporary housing, many others have moved on, making virtual ghost towns out of once busy communities.

As of the end of November, 19,373 people were still in 16,403 temporary housing units in Fukushima, down from the peak of 33,016 people in July 2012. The disaster rescue law stipulates that residents can live in temporary housing for up to two years, but the prefecture extended that to March 2017.

But as more people move into new public housing or elsewhere, some 38 percent of the temporary housing units in Fukushima were vacant as of the end of November, up from 17 percent at the same time in 2013.

“It’s lonely to celebrate the new year in a temporary housing community when residents move out one by one,” said Masanori Takeuchi, 65, as he gazed intently at unlit units. Takeuchi heads a neighborhood council at a temporary housing community in Aizuwakamatsu.

When he moved in four years and five months ago, almost all 83 units were full. But now there are only about 40 people in 19 units, with five families planning to move in the spring.

As the vacancies grow, fewer people show up when Takeuchi and others hold barbecue parties and other events. When university volunteers throw get-togethers for the community, there are times when there are more staffers than residents.

“Worries that their neighbors will leave them could trigger mental illness,” said an official with a prefecture-affiliated social welfare association.

According to the Cabinet Office, 11 people committed suicide in Fukushima between January and July this year, apparently due to the events of 3/11. Of those, two were residents of temporary housing.

The government of Fukushima is aware of the situation and has been struggling to hire enough staff to monitor their mental health and well-being. Fukushima wanted to hire 400 people for the job this fiscal year, but had only managed to fill 274 of the slots as of Dec. 1. One of the reasons is the lack of job security: The positions are offered on a one-year contract because the program is funded by central government subsidies given out each fiscal year.

“We have asked the government to revise the (subsidy program) but it’s going to be difficult,” said an official in Fukushima.

The temporary nature of the housing units is also a headache.

So far, piling erosion has been observed at 214 of the structures and termite infestations have been found in 128. Of those, 121 had both.

Normally, the piling that supports the foundation of a house is made of steel or concrete. But because temporary housing units are built to last for approximately two years, the piling is made of wood to shorten construction time and make them easier to disassemble.

The prefecture is planning to push the schedule forward for piling work by the end of March, but has yet to inform the residents of the details, residents say.

In addition, prefectural inspections have found 633 units in need of repairs, such as clogged roof gutters and other issues. Fukushima plans to fix the problems by the end of the month, but the prefecture is plagued by many other requests from residents, keeping them very busy.

“Until I can move to public housing, this is the only place for me to live,” said a woman in her 60s living in a temporary housing unit in Iwaki where a termite infestation was found. “I want it fixed right away.”

This section appears every third Monday and features topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on Dec. 11.


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