temporary housing

This tag is associated with 31 posts

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.

’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.

Plan to end rent subsidies for some Fukushima evacuees under fresh fire, mainichi, 6/9/2015

A plan to end rent subsidies for some evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has come under fresh fire, as it emerged that those subsidies are costing at most 8.09 billion yen this fiscal year.

The evacuees under consideration for having their subsidies cut — at the end of fiscal 2016 — are voluntary evacuees living in homes other than temporary housing structures built for evacuees. The total Fukushima Prefecture relief budget for disaster evacuees this fiscal year, including non-voluntary evacuees, is over 28.8 billion yen, so the subsidies being considered for being cut account for less than 30 percent of the relief budget.

One expert knowledgeable about evacuees says, “The reason that a plan to end these subsidies has arisen even though the financial burden is not large may be that government officials want to try and force voluntary evacuees to return to their homes, without respecting evacuees’ own judgments on the matter.”

Voluntary evacuees are people who evacuated from areas outside of those where the government ordered evacuations. Until November 2012, Fukushima Prefecture did not allow them to use emergency temporary housing set up for evacuees in the prefecture, and many voluntary evacuees moved outside of the prefecture.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, for this fiscal year it allocated about 20.73 billion yen for the temporary homes of non-voluntary evacuees within the prefecture, and 8.09 billion yen for those of evacuees outside the prefecture. The evacuees outside the prefecture include non-voluntary evacuees, but the exact numbers are not known. A Fukushima Prefectural Government official says, “Non-voluntary evacuees have been using compensation for their lost real-estate to buy homes, and most of the people getting rent subsidies outside of Fukushima Prefecture are probably voluntary evacuees.”

Within the prefecture, voluntary evacuees live in around 300 homes, which are not temporary housing structures, but subsidies for their rent are included in the “out-of-prefecture” budget, so the 8.09 billion yen covers all voluntary evacuees from the prefecture.

According to the Cabinet Office, as of April 1 this year, there were evacuees living in 18,742 homes in Fukushima Prefecture other than temporary housing structures, and according to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, evacuees were living in around 10,000 such homes outside of the prefecture. Both numbers include voluntary and non-voluntary evacuees. Neither the Fukushima Prefectural Government nor the central government has yet released exact figures on the number of homes for voluntary evacuees other than temporary housing built after the disaster, nor have they released exact numbers for the total rent paid for them.

Currently, evacuee homes are set to be subsidized until the end of March 2016, with a decision on whether to extend this to be made soon after discussions between the Fukushima Prefectural Government and the Cabinet Office. A plan to end subsidies for voluntary evacuees would extend the deadline for one more year, to the end of March 2017, after which voluntary evacuees would no longer receive them. Although Fukushima Prefecture has money budgeted for subsidizing voluntary evacuees, this money is in effect all paid for by the central government. Tokyo Electric Power Co. has expressed reluctance to pay for voluntary evacuees’ rent, and so far the central government has not billed them for such.

Meanwhile, this fiscal year’s Fukushima Prefecture budget for radiation decontamination measures is 64.39 billion yen, up 13.35 billion yen from the previous fiscal year. The Ministry of the Environment released an estimate in December 2013 that the total costs for decontamination and mid-term storage for radioactive waste would be 3.6 trillion yen.

link to original article: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150609p2a00m0na006000c.html

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