Urgent support for those living in Tokyo’s Sanya to survive the winter of covid *Support term is extended until the end of March
With the declaration of a state of emergency and the nation’s harsh winters, life for those who live in the streets and camp in Sanya has become increasingly difficult. We have heard from many sleeping rough people that they need temporary lodging or help with caring for their friends who are older than they are and in poor health. We’re asking for funds to help provide emergency lodging and meals for those doing it rough.
Emergency Relief for Corona Disaster
Due to the declaration of a state of emergency and the harsh winter months, the situation for those who are sleeping rough has become severe. We would be grateful for your cooperation in providing emergency support.
Outline of support
Contents: Provision of accommodation, food, and necessary supplies for people to survive the winter.
Target amount: 2 million yen ($20,000 USD appx)
In Sanya, the area in the Taitō and Arakawa wards of Tokyo, there are many people sleeping rough. Many of these folk refuse to accept public assistance, saying that they want to work and eat on their own, even if they have nowhere to live. They take pride in supporting themselves as much as possible.
Since the state of emergency declaration last year, YUI has been delivering necessary supplies such as food and masks to such people and conducting health-focused outreach activities to connect them with public assistance if they wish or need.
However, with the declaration of a state of emergency on January 7 and the subsequent cold wave, the situation has become more difficult. We have received many inquiries from people who need assistance. Also, the simple lodging facilities that we operate have been affected by the coronavirus, as it’s difficult for the facilities that we are contracted to operate to continue to provide lodging support, even at a low cost. While we will continue our outreach activities as before, we can limit how much we can do for free. Therefore, we decided to seek support for a second time through crowdfunding (the first time was when we built Sanya Cafe).
About our support
We want to provide material support (including accommodation and food) and social and emotional support through counseling.
First of all, we would like to provide material support to the two main types of people living rough: the fixed and mobile groups.
There are typically two types of people who rough: the fixed group, who set up tents in a certain place, and the mobile group, who cannot return to their tents because they’ve been removed in their absence.
Community Life Support: Making Contact with Society
As a contact point with society, we focus on the relationship with the community. For some years now, YUI has been running community garbage cleaning up nights with the residents of Sanya (Sanya Cafe Cleanup Team). Volunteers regularly go around the area to pick up trash, speak with those on welfare and those doing it tough, and get to know each other. Some of those hanging out on the street join the cleanup, while the interaction from various people in the community during the cleanup process leads to an increased sense of belonging and self-affirmation as a member of the community.
Once contact with society is diminished, it takes time to reintegrate into society. To regain personal dignity, a physical environment (such as a sanitary place where privacy can be maintained) and a psychosocial environment (a living environment where independent choices can be made, and human relationships where people can respect and talk to each other regardless of their position) are necessary.
We believe that only when these two environments are secured will people be ready to reconnect with society, and we hope to be a part of that.
How we will use the money raised
We will need 1,200,000 yen for 35 days to accommodate 15 people at any one time, with the cost being 2,250 yen per person per night for accommodation.
We will continue to provide sleeping bags and other necessary supplies that can withstand the extreme cold outdoors and deliver meals to people living in the field. Approximately 240,000 yen
Health counseling by specialists will be provided as needed. Approx. 200,000 yen
Other crowdfunding fees and consumption tax: approx. 360,000 yen
Currently, we have already started distributing sleeping bags.
If the amount we raise is not as high as our goal, we will respond by reducing the supply of goods and food and reducing the number of people and days we accept.
We are a general incorporated association engaged in accommodation and restaurant business activities, so we do not have any tax exemptions or other privileges. Our regular business is in the red due to coronavirus, but we can continue our business while receiving a special loan for the new coronavirus infection. Therefore, 100% of the donations will be used for support purposes and will not be used for personnel or expenses of the corporation’s regular business.
This donation is mainly for emergency support, but we hope that through this support, we will help those who wish to receive public assistance, including medical assistance, and provide support for community cleanup and employment to create opportunities for people to be active in the community.
Why do so many people refuse to receive welfare benefits?
There are many reasons why some individuals may refuse welfare. Here are some reasons:
When you apply for public assistance, your family will be asked to support you. Many people don’t want to burden their families or have been estranged from their families, so this might not be an option.
To register for welfare, you need an address. Getting an address can be difficult for some individuals.
Those with debts or domestic violence victims also have difficulty securing welfare too, especially if they’re trying to escape an unstable home environment.
Others are too ashamed to be associated with the stigma of receiving welfare, and they want to fend for themselves as much as they can.
Some people have also simply had negative experiences at the welfare office, or not treated with dignity when they went to seek such help in the past. Also, it’s common for those who may have mental health troubles to have experienced poor treatment in hospital, or were locked up in isolated environments, and do not want to experience that again.
Going to Sanya in search of freedom
Many people visit Sanya in search of freedom from isolation wards, people profiting off their welfare, rehabilitation facilities, as even freedom from the exploitative long working hours of black companies, and other constraints of Japanese society.
From an international perspective, Japan’s welfare system is a valuable social system that provides support.
However, it is also true that there are many negative aspects of the welfare system, such as discriminatory views of welfare, dependency inquiries to family members, hindrance of recipients’ motivation to work because their income (except for the deduction for work) is deducted at a later date.
Everyone wants to live with pride. We would like to learn from the voices of these people who are living in the wild and make recommendations for a more effective operation of the welfare system.
General Incorporated Association YUI: About us
YUI is a social enterprise that operates simple lodging facilities and conducts volunteer activities in the community with the aim of creating a community that utilizes the diversity of Sanya and is tolerant and inclusive.
In 2018, we opened the Sanya Cafe to create a place to utilize diversity, and the Sanya Cafe Cleanup Team has been cleaning up the community. Since May 2020, when the state of emergency was declared, we have been distributing hot, nutritious meals to people living rough and interviewing them about their health and living conditions.
We have been accepting people who have been placed on welfare due to covid too. Some of them have been moved to apartments or shelters run by support groups.
At the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s request, we accepted 22 people who had been living on the streets during the Golden Week and New Year holidays.
We aim to help people participate in society in the future, starting from this emergency support stage.
In the event that we receive more donations than expected, we will continue to provide meals for those who are staying in the field, as there is a possibility that there will be no jobs provided by the city.
The center of Sanya is located in Taito Ward, and those who receive public assistance in Taito Ward are required to live in Taito Ward. We will use the funds to prepare housing in Taito Ward that respects their autonomy and allows them to maintain their dignity.
We will use the funds to establish a continuous employment support workshop where people can play an active role in the community to improve their self-esteem and participate in society.