A temporary accommodation center for homeless people finally opened in the Kita-Shinjuku district of Tokyo on April 24, after nearly a year delay due to opposition from local residents.

Seventy-nine homeless people, who formerly lived in the underground concourse at JR Shinjuku Station, moved in to six large rooms in the building, formerly used as a fire station. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will provide accommodation and job-counseling services at the center until late September.

Disgruntled local residents finally agreed to let the homeless move in after the metropolitan government pledged the center would only be used for six months and a curfew would operate from 4:30 p.m. until the next morning.

In addition, they promised to staff the facility 24-hours a day to allay fears by locals that the center’s residents will cause disturbances in the area. The relocation, announced by the Tokyo government last spring, was immediately met with protests from locals and the Shinjuku Ward government.

But after a Feb. 7 fire killed four homeless people in the station concourse, the ward reversed its stance and persuaded local residents to accept the move.

The metropolitan government is trying to persuade ward offices in Tokyo to allow creation of five permanent accommodation and job-counseling centers for the capital’s more than 3,000 homeless people. However, this plan has made little progress.

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