Our Vison and Basic Concept
Renovate Japan is a social enterprise with a vision of “Making Our Living Environment Comfortable for Everyone”.
We strive to accomplish that vison by self-renovating vacant houses into shared residences with a concept of respecting and celebrating diversity (vacant houses are a social issue in Japan. Details below). In the making of those houses, we employ people who not only need jobs but also housings; they will help our renovation while living in the vacant house for a certain period of time. We will use that time and space to help them proceed to the next step, whether it’s another employment or social safety nets. In addition, we will build and manage a supporting community including the neighbors, elderlies and students, who are willing to join the renovation process and enjoy the journey together with us.
Through this social business model, we hope to contribute on eradicating poverty and discrimination from our beloved society.
Social Issues of Concern
Relative Poverty / Inequality
Relative poverty rate is defined as the fraction of people who live under half the national median income (the middle person in the ranking of incomes). Japan is known to have a high relative poverty rate among the OECD countries, with approximately one in six people (15.7%) falling in that category.
Number of citizens struggling to have or maintain a roof over their head is also quite high. According to The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were over 4000 homeless people observed within the country on daytime survey, 2019. In addition, The Government of Tokyo reported in 2018 that approximately 4500 people in Tokyo stay at internet cafes and family restaurants at night, as they do not have stable places to stay.
Discrimination in The Real Estate Market
In general, certain minorities in Japan struggle to find stable housings due to some of the house owners being discriminative. Foreigners and sexual minorities are known to be one of those minority groups. As a resident assistant in an international dormitory, Takayuki, our company representative has consulted many of them who struggled when leaving the dormitory. Single elderlies and handicapped people are also said to be discriminated in the market.
More than 13% of the houses in Japan (8.5 million) are vacant, according to the survey in 2018. There are few combinations of reasons that are discussed, such as the aging population, family issues regarding inheritance, and the problematic taxing scheme incentivizing the owners not to take the house apart for sale.
Vacant houses can become a big issue for the local area. There has been reported cases about them being broken into by criminals and becoming their base, or them crashing down onto neighboring houses due to lack of maintenance. Some houses are even left with garbage inside, which could lead to smells and hygiene issues. Plus, they could damage the local scenery.
Our Business Model in Detail
Step 1. We rent/buy the vacant house from its owner.
Step 2. We self-renovate the house into a livable environment. The goal is to make it into a shared residence.
Step 3. We employ people who are in need of jobs and housings for a weekly to monthly term. At this point, the house will be like a short-term shelter with work that pays a decent amount. Let us call those employees “Renovators”.
Step 4. Renovators help us renovate the house while living in one of the rooms.
Step 5. We help the Renovators proceed to the next step, by for example, consulting their plans, and providing information and professional networks. Depending on the situation, our staff will stay at the house together to provide more support. Hiring an external counselor is also considered.
Step 6. Renovators proceed to the next step with their earned money and experience. If our model continues, they could move into the next vacant house and have access to a longer term for support.
Step 7. We run the renovated house as a rental shared residence. The focus here is to create a psychologically safe space for the residents and promote diversity.
In addition to above, a Supporter Community will be established and managed (people will be registered into an online platform). We welcome your visit and help on our renovation and/or other supplies, and hope that our place not only is for work, but also for building a lovable community.