Tokyo to provide free housing for those displaced by floods in western Japan

by Sakura Murakami

Staff Writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has said it will provide free public housing for victims of the torrential rains and floods that recently inundated western Japan, and will start accepting applications from prospective residents Wednesday.

Although Tokyo is several hundreds kilometers away from the area hit by extreme weather earlier this month, the capital is offering 220 residences located in council housing blocks for those who have lost their homes to the severe flooding. As of Monday, there are still 4,700 evacuees.

Asked whether victims would be motivated to move away from their homes to Tokyo for free housing, “we understand that some victims would have family in Tokyo. We thought it would help for the victims to have a safe place to stay near their family in Tokyo,” said Shunro Miyazaki, an official at the Urban Development Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Rent, deposit and other costs such as parking will be covered by the metropolitan government for up to six months. However, residents will have to cover their own bills for gas, electricity and water.

Although the initial contract for the housing will only be for six months, it will be possible to renew the contract for another six months, with free accommodation being provided for up to a year.

Applicants need a certificate issued by their local government, proving that their original residence was at least partially destroyed, in order to apply for the free housing. However, victims will not have to provide the certificate right away, given that it may take time for local governments to issue the necessary documents, Miyazaki told The Japan Times.

Applications will be accepted by telephone from Wednesday until the following Tuesday.

The 220 residences set aside for flood victims are all currently available, and applicants will be able to move into their new housing as early as a week after the paperwork is accepted.

As of Tuesday about 110,000 residences, ranging from council housing to privately rented houses, have been made available across Japan for victims of the flooding, according to figures made public on the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry website.

However, the figures also show that housing for victims is not plentiful for areas hit hardest by the flooding, namely the prefectures of Hiroshima and Okayama.

To apply for metropolitan government housing, please call 03-3409-4522.

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