temporary housing

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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.

Naraha residents can return home Sept. 5 in lifting of evacuation order, asahi, 7/7/15

Naraha residents can return home Sept. 5 in lifting of evacuation order

NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–The people of Naraha, a town that was evacuated after the disaster at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, will be allowed to return home Sept. 5, the government said.

It will be the first among seven municipalities to have an evacuation order for all residents lifted since the meltdowns at the plant in March 2011.

The central government notified Naraha officials July 6 that it had fixed the date. Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto accepted the plan, saying the town will help residents resettle.

The removal of the evacuation order is aimed at “accelerating the town’s recovery” from the nuclear disaster, said Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry, during a meeting with Matsumoto.

Takagi, who heads the on-site headquarters of the nuclear disaster response task force, said the government believes that radioactive contamination in the town is “not dangerous enough to continue forcing evacuation on residents who want to return home.”

He also pointed out that prolonged evacuation will have a negative impact on residents’ health and will deprive the town of recovery opportunities if private businesses are prevented from starting up in the area.

The lifting of the evacuation order for Nahara will be the first case among the seven municipalities in which almost all the residents as well as municipal governments were forced to evacuate.

The majority of the town’s 7,400 residents currently live in temporary housing and publicly subsidized apartments in other parts of Fukushima Prefecture or elsewhere. They will be allowed to return home permanently once the evacuation order is removed.

Even after the evacuation order is lifted, residents can remain living in the temporary shelters and other dwellings where they currently reside rent-free until March 2017.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, has also pledged to continue paying compensation to all residents until at least March 2018.

On June 17, Takagi had proposed lifting the evacuation order before the Bon holiday period in mid-August, but this plan was opposed by local officials and residents who argued that not enough had been done to restore the town’s environment.

The central government pushed back the date to Sept. 5, assessing the government’s efforts have met three criteria necessary to lift the evacuation order: lower airborne radiation, improved infrastructure and administrative services, and a sufficient consultation period for residents and the local authority to discuss the situation with central government officials.

89,000 still living in temporary housing in Tohoku disaster area, asahi shinbun, 9/11/2014

More than 89,000 evacuees are still living in prefabricated temporary housing in northeastern Japan three and a half years after the 3/11 disaster.

The hard-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima reported that as of the end of August, 89,323 people who lost their homes to the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami or were displaced because of the nuclear accident are living in 41,384 temporary housing units in 49 municipalities.

The temporary housing units were only built to last two years.

After the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, it took five years for all residents who moved to temporary accommodation to relocate to permanent housing.

But in the Tohoku disaster, it will likely take longer for the evacuees to find places to settle permanently.

The Reconstruction Agency said the construction of permanent housing units to accommodate evacuees and preparation of land plots for disaster-affected communities will be completed in just 18 municipalities by the end of fiscal 2015, the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

As for the remaining 31 municipalities, local governments will extend the use of temporary housing on a yearly basis as long as permanent housing to accommodate the residents remains short, the Cabinet Office said.

In Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which has the largest number of households who lost their homes to the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the city government plans to construct housing units and prepare land plots to accommodate 7,660 households.

But only about 53 percent will be completed by fiscal 2015. The land development projects to create housing lots to accommodate the disaster-affected communities will not be completed until fiscal 2017, city officials said.

“We have no choice but to maintain the temporary housing until then,” a city official said.

In 13 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, the completion of permanent housing for evacuees is nowhere in sight as local governments are still in the process of negotiating with landowners to obtain land plots.

In areas around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, decontamination work and recovery of infrastructure lag behind schedule, and it remains unknown when all evacuees can return home.

In addition to the 89,000 people in temporary housing, there are about 90,000 people who live in 38,000 public and private housing units that are rented by local governments on a temporary basis in the three prefectures.

The government had set the duration period for temporary housing at two years, and the units are becoming increasingly decrepit. Many residents have complained about health problems caused by stress from living in cramped temporary housing.

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