Cubicles for the Homeless

Entrepreneurs in Tokyo have developed "capsule" hotels with coffin-like cubicles for those needing shelter.  They aren't free:
The rent is surprisingly high for such a small space: 59,000 yen a month, or about $640, for an upper bunk. But with no upfront deposit or extra utility charges, and basic amenities like fresh linens and free use of a communal bath and sauna, the cost is far less than renting an apartment in Tokyo, Mr. Nakanishi says.

The concept was originally developed to accommodate travelers in airports or those stranded without transportation, but now they are being rented by the month, and long-term users are registering the sites as their official "home."

Link.  Photo credit Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

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to WordyGrrl: I see your point; however, homelessness isn't relegated to just big cities. There are many middle-sized and small cities that have a homeless population and $640 will get you a small apartment.
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It's a brilliant idea for the homeless. They get shelter and needed services, and they're warehoused away from the public.

to Fran: Check the rents in some big cities around the US/world. There are a LOT of places where $640 can't even buy you a room to rent. Combine that with the unemployment rate (fewer people making a good salary), and it gets kinda scary.
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This is straight out of the book "Neuromancer" by William Gibson. Its a futuristic novel where people sleep in rooms described exactly like that and they are referred to as coffins. He also coined the word "Cyberspace" and describes hackers and the internet before it even existed. In the novel people upload info into their brain using "microsoft" chips.
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I would imagine however, that japanese homeless people take great pains to make sure they bathe on a daily basis. Can you imagine the stench of such cubicles in the U.S.
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Japan has a surprisingly large homelessness problem. I was amazed by the sheer scale of the blue-tarp tent city in the parks surrounding Osaka Castle when I was there in 2005.
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