FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima Prefectural Government said Monday it will stop providing free housing at the end of March 2017 to nuclear evacuees whose homes are in official evacuation zones.
Housing assistance to the voluntary evacuees, currently set to expire in March 2016, will be terminated after a one-year extension.
The program was instituted after the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant forced thousands to flee.
The prefectural government is considering offering financial assistance for home moves, as well as rent subsidies for low-income households, after the end of the free housing program.
Gov. Masao Uchibori said that emergency assistance under the disaster relief law is getting harder to justify after progress in the restoration of infrastructure, contamination work and the construction of public housing.
The prefectural government estimates there are about 25,000 voluntary evacuees, 20,000 of whom are residing outside Fukushima.
The free housing program for voluntary evacuees was originally a two-year measure, but it has been extended annually for a further 12 months.
Housing assistance for those who have evacuated from designated zones will also remain in place through fiscal 2016. The prefecture will consider on an individual basis whether to continue help when evacuation orders are lifted.
For people who lost their houses in the tsunami, Fukushima will discuss an extension for each household after fiscal 2016, depending on the progress of public housing construction.