• Kyodo

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The Hyogo Prefectural Government will establish special public housing quotas in an effort to accelerate the resettlement of those who were displaced by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and now live outside Hyogo Prefecture, prefectural officials said Thursday.

This action constitutes a response to their prolonged evacuation and their advancing age, the officials explained, adding that the measure will probably be implemented in the spring.

The quotas will help resettle evacuees who are having difficulty finding affordable housing in the prefecture.

The prefecture has thus far made no special effort to provide housing for those who were forced out of the prefecture after the massive quake, which leveled parts of Kobe and neighboring areas.

The prefecture will also suspend — on a case-by-case basis — its demands that evacuees living in private housing facilities outside the prefecture repay their rent aid if they do not resettle by the end of March 2006, the officials said.

Evacuee housing quotas have been established to cover those living in makeshift facilities, single-parent households and those with more than three children under the age of 18.

But no quotas have been designed specifically to cover those living outside the prefecture. The prefecture estimates that many of these people have been waiting for years to win a public housing lot.

According to data compiled in December 1996, the prefecture estimated that more than 55,000 people left the prefecture in the wake of the 1995 quake. These figures have not been updated since then.

The prefecture has provided evacuees living within its jurisdiction with monthly rent assistance of between 10,000 yen and 30,000 yen per household since October 1996. Those living outside the prefecture became eligible for the aid six months later.

Evacuees in the latter category are required to sign a promissory note in which they pledge to pay back the full amount they receive if they do not return to the prefecture by the end of March 2006.

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