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Nonprofit organizations helping homeless people will launch a nationwide organization in June to draw more government support, they said Tuesday.

The central and local governments have offered job and housing opportunities under a 2002 law to support homeless people, but the groups say it is necessary to lobby for measures to help deal with a wider range of problems, they said.

Aiming to share information and cooperate in formulating proposals to the government, groups in Tokyo, Osaka and Kitakyushu have called on about 60 organizations to take part, with about 30 onboard so far, they said.

The number of homeless people was estimated at 18,500 as of January, down some 6,700 from 2003, according to a study by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Even so, many problems remain as those who become financially independent often go back to living in the streets, said 59-year-old Suzuko Yasue, director of a group assisting homeless people in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, and one of the nationwide body’s cofounders.

The new organization will propose that the government offer various forms of assistance, including providing a consultation service to young people who spend nights at Internet cafes because they cannot afford to pay rent for housing, the groups said.

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