• Kyodo News


More than 1,000 people have registered at a government support center in Tokyo to seek help after losing temporary jobs and becoming homeless, the center said Monday.

Tokyo Challenge Net, launched last April, said 282 of the people have since found places to live, with 159 moving into apartments after receiving no-interest loans from the center and 123 finding jobs that provide housing.

But those who are working are making only ¥160,000 a month on average, whereas all the people registered are in debt by an average of ¥2 million, it said.

“We are wondering how we can protect the registered people who may be facing individual bankruptcy. Our urgent task is measures to deal with their multiple loans,” said a Tokyo Challenge Net official from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Tokyo Challenge Net was set up in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku Ward jointly by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The ministry released an estimate in 2007 putting the number of homeless people who live in Internet cafes at 2,000 in the 23 wards of Tokyo.

The number of people registered with Tokyo Challenge Net totaled 1,002 as of March 7, with 33 percent in their 30s, 27 percent in their 40s, 18 percent in their 20s, 14 percent in their 50s and 4 percent in their 60s or older.

Topping the kinds of trouble they faced was finding accommodations, followed by finding jobs, according to their consultations with the center.

To receive no-interest loans, the applicants must have lived in Tokyo for six months or longer and carry identification cards.

Loans for accommodations range up to ¥400,000 and for furniture and other necessities up to ¥200,000.

A total of 167 people have applied for the loans, of whom 159 have received them, while the remaining eight are waiting for screening.

Many have settled in one-room apartments equipped with bathrooms and toilets for a monthly rent of ¥50,000 to ¥54,999.

With jobs referred to them by Tokyo Challenge Net, 233 found employment — 73 as regular employees, 99 as part-time workers and 37 as contract workers.

The largest number found inventory work at warehouses, followed by cargo handling, traffic direction, restaurant work and construction work.

Of those who found work, 123 took jobs that provide housing.

A Tokyo Challenge Net survey found that 441 people, or more than half the 834 registered as of the end of last year, owed money. At least 17 people had loans of more than ¥10 million and debts averaged ¥2.23 million per person.

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