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2. Disaster Restoration Public Housing and the Group Transfer System
Public Rental Housing for Disaster Recovery
The public rental housing system for achieving earthquake reconstruction consists of five types of housing:
Types of Disaster Restoration Public Housing etc.
(1)Public housing (municipal and prefectural)
The Three-Year Housing Reconstruction Plan combines the strength of the major suppliers of public rental housing, and increases the overall ability of victimized city residents to secure housing.
(2)Specially designated high-quality rental housing , that is private project with public aid
(3)Housing and Urban Development Corporation housing
(4)Redevelopment housing (i.e., housing designed under urban planning projects)
Each measure has a clear purpose, and the entrance qualifications in terms of income and household circumstances have been well defined, but after the earthquake, the entrance qualifications were relaxed by legal and systematic revisions that made it possible for earthquake victims to qualify for entrance. However, efforts by the various housing management organizations to reduce rents (the amount paid by tenants) were made, but since rents were set based on limitations of the original system and not on the income of tenants, and there has not been a large trend of low-income persons moving into these housing units.
For example, the construction of specially designated high-quality rental housing proceeded smoothly immediately after the earthquake, but the high-quality of housing (size of units, amenities) called for by this system required equally high rents that could not be afforded by low-income persons. (Later revisions in the aid structure were designed to further lower the amount to be paid by tenants, but even these did not change the situation significantly.) Many earthquake victims were either low-income and/or elderly, and many victimized households required special consideration for securing housing because of such challenges as having a handicapped family member or being a single-parent family.
Since public housing is the most effective way to help such households achieve stability in their everyday life, there was a strong demand for such housing facilities. The large increase in the number of public housing units to be supplied that was called for in the Housing Restoration Plan clearly shows the extent of the demand for public housing.
Planning and Designing Disaster Restoration Public Housing
Numerous issues had to be considered in planning and designing Disaster Restoration Public Housing including the increase in the number of units to be supplied in short period, and the fact that variations in the living situations of prospective tenants would result in variations in the types of housing demanded.
1) Mass supply of small-scale housing and housing supply by type
Since many victimized households consisted of either single elderly adults or of small families, many of the housing units provided were small. To prevent an imbalance in the types of families living in a particular facility, these were interspersed with medium and larger sized units under a system providing type-integrated housing.
2) Development of standard design, and utilization of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation
A standard housing design was adopted to reduce construction costs and minimize construction time. As many as 7,500 public housing units had to be constructed within three years, including those slated for reconstruction. Since the large number of units needed made it difficult for the City of Kobe Housing Bureau to handle all material orders and site management issues on its own, a portion of the responsibilities were delegated to the Housing and Urban Development Corporation.
The design, construction orders, and construction management for all public housing construction in the new eastern city center, including both municipal and prefectural housing, was supervised by the Housing and Urban Development Corporation. The public housing units added under the Housing Restoration Plan, includes the supply system, that is called public rental housing, through purchases and leases of private housing.
3) Housing amenities for residents
Since even before the earthquake Kobe has aimed to create not only "housing amenities that benefit the elderly", but "housing amenities that benefit everyone", and has created a design standards manual to facilitate this. The Kobe Housing Design Standard manual was published in March 1998.
Disaster Restoration Public Housing units which were designed after the earthquake preceded the manual and included barrier-free features in all housing units. Several Silver Heights communities have been established where living support advisors are available to provide services like daily living support services, health checks, and emergency communication for the elderly who are less functional or who are in fragile health. Model collective housing communities have also been established that allow people to live safer, more fulfilling lives thanks to mutual support among residents.
Tenant selections for Disaster Restoration Public Housing
Because there were so many units available and because of the difficulty of providing information in an impartial, timely manner on the availability of city units to applicants living in temporary housing facilities both inside and outside of the city, the tenant selection for public rental housing was publicized simultaneously and centrally for all affected cities.
Designed to centralize and unify application activities and selection methods, the Disaster Restoration Public Housing Association was formed of all of the rental public housing suppliers, including governments of the afflicted areas, such as the City of Kobe and Hyogo Prefecture, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, and the Kobe City and Hyogo Prefecture Housing Corporations. Tenant selections for Disaster Restoration Public Housing were conducted within this framework.
The first round of tenant selections for Kobe City Municipal Housing after the earthquake was held in July 1995. The City of Kobe was originally in charge of these activities, but 19,957 applications were received for 738 available units, resulting in a 27:1 ratio of applications to available units. The first centralized tenant selection held under the prefectural government was held in October 1995, and centralized selections were implemented through the fourth application round(Table-5).
As of September 1998, there were still about 1,400 households in temporary housing that wanted to obtain public housing but that had not yet been selected or had not yet applied. The housing expectations of the remaining temporary housing residents are limited by circumstances such as commuting conditions to school or work. Since there are many such cases that require special considerations, there are limitations to a uniform tenant selection for large numbers of housing units. The City of Kobe's Post-Quake Citizen Support Services Head Office has begun to mediate these cases depending on individual circumstances.
Group Transfer System
Various devices were created to help in the application process for Disaster Restoration Public Housing. The most significant were the establishment of a Welfare Priority Category and a Temporary Housing Household Priority Category. The Welfare Priority Category (30% of units) consisted of vulnerable households such as families with elderly or handicapped persons, or single-parent families.
This classification was also used in transferring people from evacuation shelters to temporary housing facilities. Households comprised only of elderly persons over 70 and households that included infants, elderly persons, or persons with medium to severe handicaps were ranked first. Other households were then assigned a ranking from 2-5 depending on the severity of its hardship.
The Temporary Housing Household Priority Category was established to achieve the rapid elimination of the temporary housing facilities. The occupancy rate for Disaster Restoration Public Housing rose to 60% in the second application round in July 1996, and then rose in successive application rounds to 100% for Hyogo prefectural housing and 80% for Kobe municipal housing.
Due to a disproportionately large number of elderly persons among temporary housing residents, community relations were lacking at the temporary housing facilities when they were first constructed. Communities developed over time, though, with the introduction of community centers at all facilities and the arrival of volunteers offering various support services. Many proposed that these valuable human relationships be maintained at the permanent Disaster Restoration Public Housing facilities, and this goal was achieved through the Group Transfer System, first implemented in the third general application round.
Table-5 Condition of application and result of selection of disaster restoration public housing (in Kobe City)
Under this system, joint applications by groups of 2-5 temporary housing resident households were accepted. In the fourth application round, the number of available apartment complexes was increased, increasing the possibilities for group occupancy, but few groups applied.
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