SPECIAL vol.24 Temporary Housing
by Voices from the Field Admin - Sunday, 4 October 2015, 08:03 PM
 In the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, a maximum of 421 emergency temporary housing units were built at seven sites in Shichigahama accommodating 1,285 evacuees. As of February 1, 2014, 373 emergency temporary housing units remain at six sites with 841 evacuees still living there. The evacuees point out that the temporary housing units are tough to live in because in summer the sun heats the tin roof and makes the interior unbearably hot, while in winter the thin walls without any insulation let all the cold in from the outside. Furthermore the temperature difference between the inside and outside causes so much moisture condensation that they form large drops and drip from the ceiling. As for size, for a family of four, there are only two rooms, each the size of 4.5 tatami mats (a little over 7 square meters), and a kitchen of three tatami mats (about 5 square meters). Thus the units are too small for comfort. Someone complained that the snores of the next door neighbor made him sleepless. Noise is a very common problem for the evacuees. Another person said, “I felt as if I were in heaven when I moved to the temporary housing unit from an evacuation shelter, but it is much too small. I only wish to sleep with my arms and legs fully extended.” However it will still take some years before these people can move into their permanent homes on higher ground. For reference, after the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995, the evacuees continued to live in temporary housing for five years after the earthquake.
 On the other hand, at most 764 people in 218 households lived in rented private apartment houses, also effectively considered “temporary housing”. As of February 1, 2014, 578 people in 188 households, including 80 people in 27 households who evacuated from areas outside of Shichigahama, continue to live in such arrangements. These apartment houses draw less attention than official emergency temporary housing. As a result, it has been pointed out that these evacuees are not provided with needed disaster support, nor are they provided with information about the reconstruction process in a timely manner.