housing

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Fukushima Pref. looking to end free rent for voluntary disaster evacuees in 2017, mainichi, 6/16/15

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150616p2a00m0na015000c.html

The Fukushima Prefectural Government, aiming to encourage residents to return to areas they evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, announced on June 15 its intention to end free rent for voluntary evacuees in March 2017, while continuing to provide limited support for a time.

Among such evacuees are families living in poverty, and the prefectural government intends to listen to the needs of these families while deciding on the details of its policy.

Many voluntary evacuees are living in private apartments, and their rent is free. Just like with forced evacuees from areas with evacuation orders placed on them, voluntary evacuees have had their free rent extended on a yearly basis, in accordance with the Disaster Relief Act.

At a press conference on June 15, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, “The construction of publically-managed recovery homes (for evacuees) has made progress, and it will be difficult to maintain the emergency aid being offered under the Disaster Relief Act.”

As replacements for free rent, some measures the prefecture plans to offer evacuees include: financial assistance starting this fiscal year for moving into Fukushima Prefecture; financial rent assistance for low-income evacuees starting in fiscal 2017 and lasting a few years; and preparation of publically-managed homes both in and out of the prefecture for evacuees to move into. The prefecture will seek financial assistance from the national government in order to provide these services.

Starting in July, the prefectural government plans to open consultation meetings in regions with large numbers of voluntary evacuees regarding lifestyle support and returning to evacuated areas.

“We will think of a framework that allows us to respond to everyone’s individual wishes. We want to enrich the contents of our support policies,” said Gov. Uchibori.

The exact number of voluntary evacuees is unknown, but at the end of last year, the Fukushima Prefectural Government estimated there were 25,000 people, across 9,000 households. Five thousand, across 2,000 households, are believed to be in the prefecture, and 20,000, across 7,000 households, are believed to be outside of the prefecture. This year the Fukushima Prefectural Government and the central government, which pays for the free evacuee rent, have been in talks about how much longer to extend the free rent. Since last month, the prefectural government has been exchanging opinions with municipalities with voluntary evacuees in them. The Fukushima government reached the conclusion that, with radiation decontamination work having moved forward and living conditions in evacuated areas improving, in order to encourage evacuees to move back and become independent it is necessary to end the free rent.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has also decided for now to set the end of the residing period for forced evacuees living in temporary housing structures at March 2017, with what to do after then to be dependent on factors including whether evacuation orders on restricted areas have been lifted.

Land secured for 3,741 units of nuclear disaster-related public housing, fukushima minpo, 3/29/2014

The Reconstruction Agency announced on March 28 that it has effectively secured land to build 3,741 homes in the first phase of a public housing project for people affected by the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Of the total of 4,890 homes to be constructed in the project, land for the remaining 1,149 units in the second phase is expected to be secured by September, the agency said. The Fukushima prefectural government, which is in charge of implementing the housing project, will address problems in the bidding process, including unsuccessful tenders, and plans to complete building all units by September 2016.

In the disaster-related public housing project, the prefectural government selects sites for homes, which will be built using community revival subsidies provided by the agency to finance the project. The local government has already filed applications to build 2,591 houses and secured corresponding subsidies from the agency. By March 28, it had agreed with landowners of housing sites to build another 1,150 units and filed additional applications for a combined total of 3,741 units.

As for the 1,149 houses for the second phase, the prefectural government is set to agree shortly on deals with landowners in Fukushima and Iwaki cities over sites to accommodate 190 units. It is speeding up work to select sites for the remaining 959 units, and hopes to be able to secure necessary land by September.

3 Years On: Reconstruction Agency to Boost Support for House Building, jiji press, 2/28/14

Tokyo, Feb. 28 (Jiji Press)–The Reconstruction Agency will boost efforts to help people rebuild homes and strengthen community development in areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto has said.
The year 2014 is a very important year when substantial progress would be made in many reconstruction projects, including house construction and work to prepare bases for long-term evacuees in Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant damaged heavily by the disaster, he said.
“In Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, rebuilding the homes of disaster victims is more important than anything else,” he said in an interview ahead of the third anniversary of the catastrophe, adding that the agency will help as many people as possible move into new homes.
In Fukushima, recovery in the shadow of the nuclear accident is a challenging issue, he said.
By utilizing a recently launched subsidy program, the agency will do more to help lay the groundwork to enable evacuees from the nuclear disaster to return to their homes where possible, he added.

Lack of bids threatens to keep Fukushima evacuees in temporary lodgings, japan times (fukushima minpo), 2/16/14

Plans to build new public apartments for the nuclear refugees in Fukushima Prefecture are stalling because the prefectural government is struggling to attract bids from contractors.

On Jan. 31, Fukushima announced that a project for a 16-unit concrete apartment complex in the city of Aizuwakamatsu in the western part of the prefecture failed to attract bidders. It failed because the eight private contractors who participated didn’t make offers that matched the prefecture’s budget amid surging demand for labor and materials in disaster-hit Tohoku.

It was Fukushima’s second public housing project to attract bids. Last August, an offer for a 20-unit apartment block in the city of Koriyama also failed twice. The prefecture finally found a contractor after raising the initial price twice.

Efforts to acquire land for new apartments are also stalling as negotiations with landowners are taking longer than expected. Of the 3,700 units scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, only 60 percent, or 2,360, were ready to be built, unhindered by land acquisition problems.

Because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that unfolded in March 2011, six towns and villages that had to be evacuated — Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao and Iitate — plan to build “out-of-town” communities where reinforced public apartments play a central role. The prefecture plans to build 4,890 units to house people from these and 13 other municipalities.

The prefecture has not come up with good ideas to expedite public housing, and the evacuees are facing the very real possibility they could be in temporary lodging for years to come. The fastest project to be completed so far is the 20-unit complex in Koriyama, which won’t start accepting residents until October.

When the evacuees move in, the prefectural government plans to let groups of residents who formed close ties in the shelters occupy neighboring units at the new apartments so those relationships can be preserved.

This is a lesson learned from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, when the shift to permanent public housing severed bonds the evacuees had formed in its aftermath, leaving them socially isolated and leading to a surge in solitary deaths.

Lack of bids threatens to keep Fukushima evacuees in temporary lodgings, japan times/fukushima minpo, 2/16/14

Plans to build new public apartments for the nuclear refugees in Fukushima Prefecture are stalling because the prefectural government is struggling to attract bids from contractors.

On Jan. 31, Fukushima announced that a project for a 16-unit concrete apartment complex in the city of Aizuwakamatsu in the western part of the prefecture failed to attract bidders. It failed because the eight private contractors who participated didn’t make offers that matched the prefecture’s budget amid surging demand for labor and materials in disaster-hit Tohoku.

It was Fukushima’s second public housing project to attract bids. Last August, an offer for a 20-unit apartment block in the city of Koriyama also failed twice. The prefecture finally found a contractor after raising the initial price twice.

Efforts to acquire land for new apartments are also stalling as negotiations with landowners are taking longer than expected. Of the 3,700 units scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, only 60 percent, or 2,360, were ready to be built, unhindered by land acquisition problems.

Because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that unfolded in March 2011, six towns and villages that had to be evacuated — Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao and Iitate — plan to build “out-of-town” communities where reinforced public apartments play a central role. The prefecture plans to build 4,890 units to house people from these and 13 other municipalities.

The prefecture has not come up with good ideas to expedite public housing, and the evacuees are facing the very real possibility they could be in temporary lodging for years to come. The fastest project to be completed so far is the 20-unit complex in Koriyama, which won’t start accepting residents until October.

When the evacuees move in, the prefectural government plans to let groups of residents who formed close ties in the shelters occupy neighboring units at the new apartments so those relationships can be preserved.

This is a lesson learned from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, when the shift to permanent public housing severed bonds the evacuees had formed in its aftermath, leaving them socially isolated and leading to a surge in solitary deaths.

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