Housing Japan’s Homeless (Part 3)

Housing Japan’s Homeless (Part 3)


Japan’s one of the wealthiest countries in the world so one might ask how it’s even possible That some of its citizens sleep on the streets In Japan you’ll find the homeless in all sorts of places They’re on the riverbanks or no one much bothers them At night in the stairwells of train stations when most have returned back to their homes On the streets with scores of people passing them by In public parks and in little communities with makeshift wood frames and tarps In most instances the homeless reside at the edges out of the way of the daily commuter So many Japanese citizens may not even realize that there are even more than a few homeless people amongst them According to government figures the homeless living on the streets only make up one out of every twenty thousand citizens or so Independent researchers say the real rate is two and a half times higher, but even at that It’s a small enough percentage that it can be mostly hidden from view but perhaps what’s even more hidden from view is how and where those who have gotten off the streets are living? There’s a range of places from emergency shelters to independent support centers to public housing to cheap no-questions-asked accommodations and dorm like rooms set up by poverty businesses in this video will explore all these places and how a once homeless person might find themselves in any one of them let’s first talk about emergency shelters and self-reliance support centers basically the idea is the emergency shelters take people straight off the street They give you a bath a shower a shave Send you to the doctor if you have some medical Problems give you three meals a day and a bed and that’s Usually got a maximum length of stay of two months in many cases the idea is when you finish that the emergency shelter you move on to the self-reliance Support Center, and these places have a longer length of stay I mentioned four months in Tokyo in Yokohama and Osaka It’s six months and here they do try to help you get back into mainstream society they will Put you on training courses. They will also do things like help you write your resume lend you a certain time to go to job interviews and They have well at least in the case of the one in Yokohama they have people from the local employment exchange you come and visit and We’ll help you look for jobs, so they do try quite hard there. Now, I’m talking more about Tokyo there are quite big variations between cities They also give you a certain amount of money to Help you to rent an apartment Buy some furniture for it and that kind of thing they don’t give you the money in Yokohama or Osaka, but instead they’ve got this longer length of stay six months and Ideally you’ll find yourself a job after one or two months And then you can commute From the shelter to the job, so you you’re not paying any rent you’re still staying for free and getting your meals for free at the shelter, and you’re earning money and The shelter will look after your money because some people have a problem with poor control of their money but they’ll look after it give you a small amount for pocket money each day and Once your savings have reached a certain point then it may be possible for you to rent an apartment It turns out that renting an apartment can be an expensive task one of the big kind of institutional problems with getting out of homelessness in Japan is the high cost of Getting into an apartment Actually nowadays rents themselves are not that high compared with other industrialized countries for example in Yokohama you can probably rent a small modest one-room apartment With a sort of little unit bathroom and a least a couple of gas rings to to cook on for about 40 or 50 thousand yen 400 or $500 So that’s not too bad, but what can be a problem is before you move into the apartment you typically have to pay two months worth of rent To the landlord as a deposit and in some parts of Japan. That’s three months another two months worth of rent as a non-returnable gift to the landlord and Another month’s rent To the real estate agent that found the property for you plus the first month’s rent upfront So that’s actually can be half a year’s rent or more before you even walk through the door, so one of the things that the shelters do is they try and let you stay there long enough and and Hopefully get a job and save money for long enough to cross this big a hurdle that Exists before you can resume Independent living now. Let’s take a tour of a Doya aka a flophouse So it can be hard for a homeless person to transition into a proper apartment due to the upfront costs required That’s where Doyle’s come in as the professor explained in a previous video There are kind of flophouse keep in mind that this is the Japanese version of a flophouse Which means while they may not be big or fancy? They can still be organized and tidy a resident was kind enough to give us The Decibel for 3ds Why are you just aah accessing Your diamond to call hi Honey hi Remus Now let’s talk about public housing they’re fairly easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for The telltale signs are large concrete apartment blocks with numbers on them because they usually come in multiples I asked the professor Why go for private apartments are accommodations like doors when there’s half-decent public housing located around the city? well, there’s a shortage of public housing in Japan it does exist and It’s rationed There are lotteries you know people get on waiting lists and the top priority is Single women with children Single men with no children are very low down the list of priorities. It’s difficult for them to Get on to public housing if you do get on to public housing then the rent is nice and low and the rent is Calibrated according to your income so the the lower your income is the lower the rent will be in your public housing so It’s it’s basically a fair Well intentioned kind of system, but there’s just not enough of it Yeah, I see that same situation over in Canada, but then the professor started talking about poverty businesses And I can’t say that I’ve ever heard about these back in my home country another major player in Homelessness and poverty problems in Japan is a group of nonprofit organizations Which are often referred to as poverty businesses and King Kong business and What they will do is they’ll find a homeless person they will invite that homeless person to come and stay at a Shelter a private shelter that they have created themselves and then once the homeless person is in there they they will Provide lawyers and help that homeless person apply for livelihood protection So the same homeless person applying for welfare on his own. He may Appeal to the prejudices of the Caseworkers and he may get turned away from for various reasons, but that same guy Having had a wash a shave and had a clean suit of clothes put on him and with a lawyer sitting next to him is Much much more likely to get his application approved So that’s what they do and up to that point you Could say they’re doing a good job the problem. Is that once the livelihood protection is approved the NPO will then take eighty Ninety percent of the money that comes in from the welfare payments in the form of rent for the room and payment for the often very basic meals that they provide and It can be a very good business for example What they’ll sometimes do is buy or? rent a Company dormitory and empty company dormitory. You know there are plenty of them around and So you buy it for a relatively low price, and you take a a unit Let’s say it’s a two dk2 rooms with a dining kitchen space And the two rooms they’ll divide up They’ll put up a flimsy plywood partition wall in it So that in each of those rooms two people can stay so this two room apartment But can now house for homeless people and the the cost to the NPO 60,000 yen a month And they’ll be getting like eighty thousand yen a month each of four guys that they’re keeping there, so You know you can see how the maths works. You can make a lot of money that way and so these businesses the these NPOs Are in a kind of gray? of the law and They they exploit formerly homeless people, but at the same time They are responsible for getting thousands and thousands of homeless people off the street, so they are another factor in these declining street homeless populations where you’ll find many homeless and formerly homeless is in Doig I Aka Skid Row so the term Skid Row comes from Seattle and are originally referred to help people with skid or drag logs? Through the city’s historic Pioneer Square, this was a rough-and-tumble part of town And thus the term Skid Row came to define an impoverished area typically urban whose inhabitants are people on the skids this Specifically refers to the poor the homeless or others either considered disruptive or forgotten by society Tokyo has its own skid row called Sanya the nature of this area is that it’s geared towards transient people as such You’ll see a lot of coin laundry and lockers it also has services to help the poor whether it be nonprofit organizations health clinics day-laborer facilities arduous aka flop houses Similar to touring the flophouse what surprised me about visiting the Doig Eye is that if you didn’t really stop and look around closely you might not even be able to tell you are in it a Different Skid Row area in Yokohama called Kotobuki Cho has a bit of street Level activity so you might see someone pushed on a wheelchair are a couple of guys drinking some one cup sake but otherwise looks fairly normal the biggest giveaway I could say is that you’ll see a lot of bicycle parking on the streets organized parking of course But a type of parking of not really seen in other areas I’ve been through while there are government and NPO efforts to get the homeless off the streets and into housing However temporary are unglamorous they maybe the fact is that there are still individuals living outdoors. I asked the professor What the situation on the ground is like the homeless? Self-reliant support law that I mentioned which was passed in 2002 includes Article 14 which empowers the people in charge of running public parks to remove Homeless people’s dwellings from them. That’s another reason why that was a controversial law on the one hand it created these various Facilities to support homeless people on the other hand it. Also had elements designed to get them out of where they already were and So we have seen Moves to kind of gradually push homeless people out of parks and sometimes riverbanks as well Occasionally it involved compulsory evictions with large numbers of police that gets all over the TV and newspapers of course so the Japanese authorities Don’t very often do that it’s kind of a last resort More likely what they’ll do is try and entice homeless people away from the park By offering them a place in our shelter Which which may in turn lead to self-reliance Center, you know these two-tier system I mentioned which Ideally will eventually get you back into mainstream society but once but part of the deal is once you’ve Once you’ve gone into the shelter They will remove your tent or your Shack, and they will also take steps to stop you from going back there for example putting up scaffolding or Road barriers around areas that people used to use to Sleep in having security patrols go around to stop new people from setting up shacks and tents and in this way they’ve been Gradually cleaning out the parks. There are the homeless people’s human rights to consider, but on the other hand Families want to use the parks mothers don’t like it if there’s a homeless tint community next to the swings and slides where they and their children want to play and so the authorities have to try and balance the conflicting interests of different members of society if you take a look at Park benches are Japan you’ll often find that they now have more arm rests and Okay, it’s nice to have an armless on your park bench But it also makes it impossible to sleep on that park bench I also encountered other barriers such as this automatic floor that prevents people sleeping at the bottom of the stairs and This chirping sound most likely designed, so you wouldn’t be able to get a good night’s rest Left-wing activists get very angry about that kind of thing and You know it it. Isn’t it isn’t a nice thing to do but When critiquing this kind of praxis you also have to ask well what’s being offered instead and What’s being offered instead is not just completely abandoning the homeless person but Providing this this system of shelters that I’ve been talking about that said These shelters do have a length of stay Attached to them, and so it’s not it It’s not unknown for a guy to be sort of taken away from where he was sleeping in a railway station In a park or what we’re ever put into one shelter moved to another shelter time runs out and Suddenly he’s homeless again only in the meantime his tent or Shack has been demolished or confiscated and You know barriers have been put up to stop him from going back to his old place so for some homeless people that Has had a very negative outcome so I’d like to put that in the balance alongside my broadly positive remarks about How the Japanese state has dealt with homelessness over the last? twenty years or so It’s a mosaic Some good things some bad things but overall I do think things are Moving in a good direction in Japan so there’s a push and pull with the system with the Japanese government Wanting its residents to act and be a certain way and its residents with their own Individual situations that don’t always fall neatly within the lines After all my research which is nothing compared to those I’ve talked to I’ve come to see the issue not really a Logistical one there are enough homes around the country But more of one of people that don’t fit into the typical Japanese society And how society itself is responding to try and find them a place as? Always, thanks for watching and I’ll catch you all in the next one

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