Help group 'like family' for ex-homeless man

Six years ago, Mr Kubo Yuichi, now 45, had a row with his family over their laundromat business and they kicked him out. He was suddenly homeless.

"I was distressed and roamed around in Tokyo,'' he said. "One night while I was walking aimlessly in Shinjuku, a man in his 30s approached me and told me to get in touch with Tenohasi, and that I should meet their volunteers in Ikebukuro," he said.

"I did that and my life was changed.''

He was treated for depression and now works as a part-time cleaner at a company, earning 140,000 yen (S$1,800) per month. He lives in a 60,000-yen apartment in a social housing complex near Ikebukuro.

Mr Yuichi is from Iwate, hundreds of kilometres north of Tokyo. He said Tokyo is home now even though it is really expensive.

"I still choose to live in Tokyo, because this is where all my friends are, and so I can help with volunteer work at Tenohasi," he said. "They are like my new family."

Nirmal Ghosh

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Help group 'like family' for ex-homeless man'. Print Edition | Subscribe