OSAKA — The Airin district of Osaka’s Nishinari Ward is home to Japan’s largest concentration of day-laborers.
As such, the area has lost much of the vitality it enjoyed during the boom years, and a large number of such workers — many of them elderly — are not only short of work but also lack a place to sleep.
But amid this grim landscape, a new type of apartment building has been established to help get these aging day-laborers some form of shelter.
The focus of the new experiment is a former common-lodging house in Nishinari Ward converted to apartments by operator Kazuhide Yamada.
A potential inhabitant need not put up any deposit nor find a guarantor to rent a room. In addition, if the person qualifies for welfare, the monthly rent, ranging from roughly 36,000 yen to 41,000 yen, will be added to the welfare payments the laborer receives.
Such measures will help elderly day-laborers grow old with the security that they will have some form of income in their later years, supporters of the effort say.
The state provides welfare for those aged 65 or over. But to receive benefits, a place of residence must be registered, effectively making homeless people ineligible.
Even if day-laborers look for an apartment, they often face the hurdle of having to find a guarantor and scraping up enough deposit money.
Osaka Prefecture does not allow people to register lodging homes as their residence, and Yamada decided to turn his inn into apartments. The building will also have a welfare counselor to attend to residents’ needs.
“I just couldn’t bear to watch former customers sleep outdoors,” Yamada said. “The apartment building will be operated using the knowhow accumulated during my years running the lodging house, and residents will be in good hands.”