The health ministry plans to bolster its support for people who have lost a place to live after experiencing business suspensions or job losses due to the fallout of the new coronavirus outbreak, sources said.
The ministry plans to secure apartments and other vacant rooms across the country for such people to stay for the time being.
In addition, the ministry will work on increasing the number of people utilizing the existing benefit program that offers money worth three months of rent in principle to those suffering economic hardships as a result of business suspensions or closures due to the virus crisis.
As of the end of April, about 8,700 people had applied for the benefit program but only about 2,800 applications had been approved, according to preliminary data of the ministry.
Some ¥16 billion to finance the additional support measures will be booked in a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 set to be compiled soon, according to the sources.
Japan is facing the need to draw up measures to support people who had no choice but to leave their company dormitories after losing jobs, as well as “internet cafe refugees,” or long-term residents at such facilities, who have been affected by cafe closures based on authorities’ business suspension requests.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the city government of Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture and other local governments have started taking their own measures such as offering public housing and empty hotel rooms for people without places to live.
Many in the ruling coalition have been calling on the central government to back such local efforts.
As municipal offices have been receiving a rush of consultations from people in need of help, the ministry plans to increase staff at welfare offices and support centers for independent living, and newly establish telephone consultation services at the ministry to let more people know about its support measures.
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