Japan's homeless get help from Ont. firm

An Ontario company is helping provide temporary housing in Japan, where thousands are left homeless following an earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.

Prefabricated houses will be built in B.C.

Survivors of the earthquake and tsunami have taken refuge at a crowded shelter in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, in northeast Japan. (Lee Jae-Won/Reuters)

An Ontario company is helping provide temporary housing in Japan, where thousands were left homeless following an earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.

Viceroy Homes of Port Hope, Ont., about an hour's drive east of Toronto, has a contract with the Japanese government to provide 2,000 temporary and basic shelters. The prefabricated homes will be built in Richmond, B.C., and the first ones should arrive in Japan in about two weeks, company president Dan Fox told CBC News Monday.

The homes will be "a very simple rectangular structure, about 30 square metres," said Fox.

Since the March 11 twin disasters, tens of thousands of people have been living in shelters set up in gyms, churches and community centres.

Fox's company has been building homes in Japan for about 15 years. He said he was in the area hardest hit by the  tsunami and earthquake just three months ago.

"It's incredible what's been going on over there. It's very gratifying to be able to help out. I mean, obviously, we have some long-standing relationships with these people," Fox said.

Some Viceroy employees who were laid off due to the slowdown in construction during the winter months have been recalled. And Fox expects he may have to hire even more workers if his company gets a contract to construct permanent homes in Japan in coming months.