Hostels


As Japanese Americans left the wartime concentration camps—both for destinations outside the restricted West Coast zone as early as the fall of 1942 and to the coast states after restrictions were lifted in 1945—finding housing was one of the greatest difficulties. To help ease the housing shortages, various groups friendly to Japanese Americans, most of which were religious in nature, opened hostels specifically to help welcome Japanese Americans and to provide them with short term housing while they looked for both jobs and longer term housing. These hostels played a key role in helping Japanese Americans reestablish their lives after World War II.

The story of the wartime hostels has a precursor of sorts in efforts by the Quaker-led American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) during the eviction period. When Japanese Americans from the fishing community of Terminal Island near the Los Angeles Harbor were summarily evicted in February of 1942, the first Japanese American group to be so affected, no provision had been made for where they were to go. To assist them, the AFSC opened short term hostels in various parts of Southern California for those unable to arrange other accommodations. One of these, opened in the Forsythe School in Boyle Heights, would later become the Evergreen Hostel in 1945. A handful of short-term hostels also opened in the San Francisco Bay Area during the eviction period.[1]

Hostels Outside Restricted Area

The War Relocation Authority (WRA), the federal agency created to manage the incarceration of Japanese Americans, sought to encourage "loyal" Japanese Americans to leave the concentration camps as soon as possible. With the West Coast still ruled off limits by the army, the WRA saw "resettlement" in areas outside the West Coast as a positive, a means to break up ethnic communities and force Nikkei to settle in areas where there were few co-ethnics. Most Japanese Americans who were allowed to leave headed for cities, where more jobs were available. But because many others also migrated to cities and because restrictive covenants limited housing options for Nikkei, housing became a problem for would-be resettlers. Working in collaboration with WRA offices in various parts of the country, the AFSC and other mostly religious groups began establishing hostels to help ease this housing crunch.

The first resettlement era hostels opened in Chicago, the most popular destination for Japanese Americans, with both the AFSC and the Church of the Brethren opening facilities in February 1943. Others that opened in 1943–44 included AFSC hostels in Cincinnati and Des Moines, a Brethren hostel in Brooklyn, a Baptist Home Mission Society Society hostel in Cleveland, a United Lutheran Church of America hostel in Minneapolis, and church collation hostels in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Many others opened in 1945. (See list of hostels below.)

None of these facilities was particularly large. The AFSC in particular specifically sought to keep them small, hoping to avoid undue attention. The largest was likely the 44-room Manhattan Hostel run by the Community Church and New York Unitarian Service Committee. Most had a capacity of 20 to 50 people. One "hostel" in Rochester consisted of a single room that could house a family of four. But over time, many thousands stayed in these hostels. In addition to hostels, many resettlers also stayed in residential hotels, including those run by the YMCA and YWCA.

The general pattern of life in the hostels was similar. For a modest fee—generally about $1 a day, with a higher fee for those with jobs or those staying longer than ten days—resettlers received room and board. In some cases they slept in a dormitory type setting, in others, in smaller rooms. Hostels generally served communal meals, and bathroom and laundry facilities were shared. Since they were mostly run by religious organizations, the hostels also offered religious and social activities, along with assistance in finding jobs and in locating more permanent homes. Like early resettlers in general, hostel denizens tended to be young. A survey of the first six months of operations at the Chicago Brethren Hostel revealed the median age of residents to be 22.6, with males outnumbering female by about a 1.6 to 1 ratio. The median length of stay was 7.3 days.[2]

For the most part, the reception of local residents to the hostels was benign. Part of this was no doubt due to efforts by hostel organizers to prime local communities, having both staff and model Nikkei make presentations, utilizing local media, and hosting open houses. However there was notable opposition in some cases, with two in particular generating a good deal of attention. In both Brooklyn in the spring/summer of 1944 and in Pittsburgh a year later, segments of the local community objected to the proposed hostels, and loud public meetings and much publicity ensued. Objections in Brooklyn were fueled in part by inflammatory comments by New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia. In both places, organizations that supported the hostels emerged, and the hostels opened as scheduled. Once Japanese Americans began to arrive, the furor in both places largely evaporated.

Since they worked in tandem with the WRA, the hostels tended to reflect that organization's views on the war and resettlement. In his study of the hostels, Jeffery C. Copeland concluded that the church group running the hostels tended to strongly support the wartime government and the policies that led to incarceration, arguing that this might have been a strategy to lessen any anti-Japanese sentiment aimed at them. In his study of resettlement, Allan Austin notes that hostels echoed WRA rhetoric regarding assimilation, citing Brethren Hostel director Ralph Smeltzer (Smeltzer and his wife Mary ran both the Chicago and Brooklyn Brethren Hostels) admonishing hostel denizens to not go "about town in groups of more than two or three." The Smeltzers also largely eschewed organized activities for Japanese Americans, fearing that they would retard assimilation. But others disagreed with such policies, citing the need for such activities. For instance, Robinson Fort, director of the AFSC hostel in Chicago, held regular Sunday teas and other similar events for Japanese Americans residents and former residents and other community members. Inevitably, some of the hostels became gathering places that encouraged ethnic community formation regardless of WRA dictates.[3]

Japanese Americans tend to remember these hostels fondly, appreciating touches like being met at the train or bus station upon arrival from camp and being counseled on the ins and outs of life in the new city. Togo Tanaka, who visited the Chicago hostels while doing fieldwork for the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study observed that those who stayed at the hostels "adjust themselves more quickly to Chicago" and have a smaller percentage "who failed to readjust successfully and who returned to camp," which he attributed to the orientation and counseling given at the hostels, along with the social life offered and low cost. Chicago Brethren Hostel director Smeltzer observed that those who passed through the hostels tended to be more stable with regard to employment, due in part to having the relative luxury of being able to look around for jobs that best suit them while staying at the hostels rather than taking a job more or less blindly while still in camp.[4]

By the end of 1946, most of these hostels had shut their doors, as the housing crush eased and as many Japanese Americans began to migrate back to the West Coast. By 1949 only the Philadelphia Hostel—which had transitioned into a multi-ethnic facility that housed many college students—continued to operate.

Return to the West Coast

Beginning in January 1945, Japanese Americans were allowed to return to the West Coast states. As was the case with those who had left for destinations outside the restricted area, housing was one of the main concerns, and religious organizations also began organizing hostels to aid the transition back from the concentration camps. While the earliest West Coast hostels were generally similar to those located further east, the forced emptying of the concentration camps and the dumping of tens of thousands of Nikkei back where they had been picked up three years prior that began in the summer and fall of 1945 created a truly dire housing situation. These later hostels tended to be larger and located in less suitable facilities and were sometimes targeted for harassment both by vandals and by local governments. The housing crisis also led to much economic exploitation, including by co-ethnics, who opened often dilapidated for-profit "hostels" and residential hotels. The worst off, with no place were to go, were shuffled off to a succession of government run trailer parks whose facilities compared unfavorably to the concentration camps they had just been evicted from.

As was the case outside the restricted area, the AFSC was the first to act, opening a small hostel in Pasadena, California on January 15, less that two weeks after Japanese Americans had been allowed to return. A month-and-a-half later, the AFSC and Presbyterian Church opened the Evergreen Hostel in East Los Angeles. The former school included four dormitories for men and two for women, as well as smaller rooms for individual families and had the space to hold close to a hundred people, though a lack of furniture and equipment limited its actual capacity. Still, it had housed over 350 in its first two months and seemed to have been well regarded at the time. Evergreen later became part of a coalition of eight hostels in Los Angeles that included both Christian and Buddhist run institutions to charge uniform rates of $1 day for room and board, with higher rates for those employed or staying over ten days and lower rates for those who don't take meals and for children. Hostel residents were required to contribute 45 minutes a day of housework and were required to bring their own linens.[5]

As former inmates poured back to the West Coast, hostels proliferated in an effort to meet the demands of housing. These later hostels were often larger and lacked the amenities of earlier ones, often consisting of church buildings converted into large open dormitories, with hastily constructed bathroom facilities and with many not offering meals. The WRA assisted these hostels by providing surplus beds and kitchen equipment from the stocks at Poston, Manzanar, and Minidoka, as the population at the concentration camps declined. In San Jose, for instance, the San Jose Council for Civic Unity began with a small hostel in an old Japanese language school building with a capacity of five or six families. But as demand rose, the hostel expanded into a gymnasium, then into the Japanese Methodist and Buddhist church buildings. At its peak, the hostel held as many as 370 people at once in the four buildings. One Issei seeking a bed at the hostel told sociologist Asael Hansen, "Christ! 300 in hostel. Cots up against each other. Christ! No place sleep, nowhere." In Frenso, the Japanese Methodist church building was converted into a dormitory and a shower was installed; however no meals or kitchen facilities were offered.[6]

Given the resurgence of anti-Japanese activity that paradoxically arose while Japanese Americans were excluded from the West Coast, it is not surprising that the new hostels faced various types of harassment. Hostels were among the targets of terrorists who attacked returning Japanese Americans. In September 1945, the hostel at the Watsonville Buddhist Church had flares thrown toward it, while hoodlums attacked the San Francisco Buddhist Hostel wielding rocks, plaster, and beer bottles. At the time, over 150 returnees were staying there.[7]

Local governments also targeted the hostels. A Stockton hostel was closed down by a judge for health violations, a Salinas hostel was ordered shut down due to a zoning violation, and the hostel in the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo was forced to close in August 1946 due to tax issues. In perhaps the most egregious case, the Koyasan Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles was hit with a $5,000 property tax bill incurred during the war, with the county arguing that by serving as a hostel and not serving as a church during the war years, it had lost its tax-exempt status. Of course it had not served as a church during the war years because its priests had been interned and congregation forcibly removed and incarcerated![8]

With church and other non-profit hostels overwhelmed, particularly in Los Angeles, for-profit "hostels" and hotels/boarding houses opened to try to meet the demand for housing. For Japanese Americans with the means, purchasing residential hotels represented a sound investment that solved both their housing (since they could live in the hotels themselves) and occupational dilemmas, and some undoubtedly saw themselves as providing a needed service to a community so in need of housing. At the same time, some of these businesspeople clearly exploited their co-ethnics to increase profits. Tom Sasaki, a researcher for the War Agency Liquidation Unit interviewed several Little Tokyo denizens in 1946. "Lots of the people bought hotels, and then called them hostels," one told Sasaki. He explained that a hotel that used to charge 50¢ a room could now charge 55¢ a bed so that a family of five pays $2.75 a night. "It is unfortunate that the Japanese are making money off of other Japanese," he concluded. Another called the hostels "a racket," observing that these operators "gave a bad name to some of the legitimate non-profit making hostels." These crowded urban hostels in run down buildings "are breeding places of delinquency" reported another informant. " They have no room for entertainment, for visiting, or for inviting friends, and so the young people, kids of 14 and 15, run around outside all hours of the night and day."[9]

Pressure really started to build towards the end of 1945 as the WRA camps closed down, and the most difficult to place inmates forcibly returned to where they had come from. In California in particular, the hostel system was no longer enough, and the WRA and Federal Public Housing Administration (FPHA) deposited returnees in existing public housing and in newly acquired former army camps unsuited for family living. (Ironically, the director of the FPHA was Dillon Myer, who had just resigned as director of the WRA.) Seven such facilities opened in LA and Orange Counties in November 1945. The facilities were described in the Pacific Citizen in a manner that is indistinguishable from descriptions of the concentration camps:

Families will live in single rooms of 12 to 20 feet, partitioned from larger frame structure barracks abandoned by the Army some time ago. The FHA supplies an iron cot, mattress and two blankets per person and the only other household article provided is a heating stove. There is no running water or toilet facilities in the rooms and the evacuees will be fed from a community kitchen.

As even these facilities filled up, the most unfortunate returnees ended up in trailer camps, facilities that contemporary observers compared unfavorably to the concentration camps from which they had been kicked out of. At the end of 1945, a New York Times report cited 4,000 living in trailers and converted army barracks in Southern California, another 1,000 in Northern California, and 2,000 more in hostels.[10]

With the WRA set to shut down, the various trailer camps had to be emptied by April 30, 1946. The WRA and FPHA arranged for the Winona Camp in Burbank to be reconfigured to take the residue from the other camps. But on May 11, returnees were "dumped" at Winona before the facilities there were finished: only 1/4 of the trailers had electricity, only one shower had hot water and gas stoves had not been connected. In the absence of food facilities, food was brought in from outside. Inmates at the Lomita camp were evicted, with many sent to the Kings Farm camp in Torrance and the Cal-Sea Food camp in Lomita, which were run by private companies who were to provide jobs for the residents. As a final indignity, the water at the Lomita camp was turned off even as the last 160 residents were still at the camp. Even Pacific Citizen columnist Bill Hosokawa concluded that "The failure of government to provide for the return of these people in peacetime in the same eficient, clockwork manner in which they were torn from their homes in wartime in an indictment of a nation."[11]

Over time, the housing crisis in Southern California eased, and the hostels gradually shut down. While the housing situation generally improved for many Japanese Americans after the war, for many of the older, sicker, or poorer Japanese Americans relegated to hostels and trailer parks, things never got much better. In fact in a few cases, these temporary facilities became semi-permanent. For instance, a new barracks constructed at the Santa Monica Gakuen remained open until 1955, and the Stockton hostel remained occupied by Issei farm workers until 1967. One of the Los Angeles area trailer parks remained open until 1956.[12]

With the exception of one recent master's thesis, there has been no research specifically focused on the hostels and their impact. As such the full story of the hostels remains to be told.

List of Hostels

Note: the following list includes only the hostels that were operated on a non-profit basis specifically for Japanese Americans leaving the concentration camps. It thus does not include privately run hostels or hotel/boarding house facilities utilized by many Japanese Americans such as those run by the YMCA/YWCA that were open to all. The list is no doubt incomplete, particularly in the area of hostels on the West Coast. Only very basic information is included below, if known: the name and location of the hostel, the sponsoring organization(s), opening and closing dates, number of people served, capacity, rates, managers, and a brief description. Facilities for which there is sufficient additional information have been given their own separate articles, which are linked to the listing here.

Outside West Coast

Boston, 6 Walnut Street. Sponsored by Unitarian Service Committee, Congregational Service Committee, and others. Opened on May 2, 1945. Managed by Rev. and Mrs. Robert Zoerheide. Rate is 60¢ per night, children under 15, 20¢. Located in four-story brick and brownstone building owned by Labor's Educational Center, Inc. No meals are served, but kitchen facilities are available.

Buffalo. Sponsored by Buffalo Resettlement Committee.

Chicago, 350 West Beldon Ave. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened in February 1943, closed on November 30, 1943. Capacity of about 15. Served 376 people. Rate is $1 a day, increasing to $12 a week and finding a job. Managed by Mr. and Mrs. Robertson Fort. One of the first hostels to open, the Chicago AFSC hostel closed early, on December 1, 1943, due to the property having been leased to another organization.

Chicago, 3435 West Van Buren; 6118 Sheridan Road. Sponsored by Church of the Brethren. Opened in February 1943, closed in April 1944. Served 1,085 people. Managed by Ralph and Mary Smeltzer. The hostel first opened in the Bethany Theological Seminary on hear Westside, then moved to three-story former rest home near Evanston in September 1943 that had six bedrooms, along with a large room that served as a men's dormitory. The church chose to close down the hostel in April 1944 in order to open another in Brooklyn, New York, where it perceived a greater need.

Chicago, 537 North Wells Street. Sponsored by Japanese Mutual Aid Society of Chicago. Opened in June 1943, open for just a short time. Capacity of 50. Managed by Shoji Osata. Due to poor living conditions, the WRA stopped referring people here.

Cincinnati, 2820 Winslow Ave. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened on April 16, 1943, and closed on January 1, 1946. A wood and stucco house that was a dormitory for the Graduate School of Applied Religion, it had a capacity of 24. Served a total of 777 people. Managed initially by Gracia Booth, then by Arthur and Kate Brinton, and finally by Anne Schneider.

Cincinnati, "The Family House," located at Winslow and Oak Streets, two doors from AFSC Hostel. Sponsored by Episcopal Church. Opened in March 1945. Rate of $16 a month for adults, $6 for children. Managed by Rev. John Yamazaki. Three-story former graduate student dorm was reserved for family groups.

Cleveland, 2429 Prospect Ave. Sponsored by American Baptist Home Mission Society. Opened in June 1943 and closed in July 1945. Three-story former fraternity house with capacity of about 30. Rates of $1 per night, $1.50 if employed, and $2 after ten days, all for room and board; children are half price. Managed for the duration by Max and Ellen Franzen. Closed on July 15, 1945 due the expiration of its lease, even though demand was still high.

Columbus, 627 South Lazelle Street. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened on September 1, 1945. Capacity of two or three families in two large bedrooms. Fee is $5 per week per family. No meals served by families can do their own cooking in shared kitchen.

Des Moines,1614 31st Street; 2150 Grand Avenue. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened in September 1943 and closed in August 1945. Total of 750 people stayed there. Managed by Mr. and Mrs. John Copithorne, then by Ross and Libby Wilbur. Began on 31st Street before moving to Grand Avenue location.

Detroit, Fellowship House, 130 East Grand Boulevard. Sponsored by United Ministry to Resettlers of the Detroit Council of Churches. Managed by Rev. Shigeo Tanabe.

Detroit, New Buddhist Family Hostel, 3915 Trumbull. Sponsored by Buddhist Church of Detroit and War Relocation Authority. Opened in July 1945. Capacity of 20 to 30. Rates are 80¢ a day and $5 per week for unemployed adults, $1.20 a day and $6 a week for employed, 50¢ a day or $2 a week for children under 12; meals are not served, though cooking facilities are available. Managed by Rev. and Mrs. Shawshew Sakow.

Kansas City, 2411 Independence Blvd. Sponsored by "cooperating Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic groups." Opened on June 17, 1945. Thirty beds available. Rates of $1 a day, $1.50 for employed for room and board, with children half price. Managed by George Nagamoto, and Issei orthodontist. Building was a former parsonage Independence Avenue Methodist Church.

Milwaukee, 1426 North Prospect Ave. Sponsored by Milwaukee Resettlement Association. Opened on September 1, 1945. Three story house that includes 15 bedrooms, three bathrooms, and shared living, cooking, and dining rooms. Rates of $1 a day, $1.50 for employed with children under 8 half price.

Minneapolis, 127 Clinton Ave. Sponsored by United Lutheran Church of America. Opened in January 1944. Building can hold 20 to 22 residents. Fee of $1 a day, $1.50 for employed for room and board. Managed by Martha B. Akard, who had been principal of a high school in Kumamoto and who spoke Japanese fluently.

New York (Brooklyn), 168 Clinton Street. Sponsored by Church of the Brethren. Opened from May 1944 to April 1946. Four story brownstone former fraternity house with a capacity of 25; housed over 1,600 people in its two year lifespan. Managed by Ralph and Mary Smeltzer to August 1944, then by Dr. and Mrs. Elden and Cecile Burke.

New York, Manhattan Hostel, 58 East 102nd Street. Sponsored by Unitarian Service Committee. Opened in October 1945 and closed in October 1947. Housed 948 people in its two year life. Managed by Mr. and Mrs. Giichiro Mitani. Located in a five-story building with 44 rooms, a dining room that seats 60, a kitchen, and lounges and recreation space.

New York, New York Church Committee for Japanese Americans. Small "hostel-apartment" with a capacity of seven in mid-town New York. Open in 1945.

Philadelphia, 3228 Chestnut Street. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Federation of Churches, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Citizen's Cooperating Committee. Opened in April 1944 and celebrated fifth anniversary in 1949. Capacity of about 25; had housed 1,148 in the year ending October 1, 1945. Fee for room and board of $1 a day, $1.50 for the employed, $2 for employed after ten days, with children under ten 50¢. Managed by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, later by Mr. and Mrs. Saburo Inouye. The four-story, ten bedroom building had been student housing for Drexel and University of Pennsylvania students.

Pittsburgh. Sponsored by Jewish community and United Presbyterian Church. Opened in August 1945. Capacity of 25. Substantial opposition by local community initially.

Rochester. Sponsored by Rochester Resettlement Committee and First Baptist Church. Opened April 1945. "Hostel" is actually a one bedroom apartment with kitchen that is offered without charge.

Spokane. Sponsored by Methodist church.

Spokane. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee and Spokane Fellowship Center. Opened in August 1945. Capacity of twelve persons. Rate of 75¢ a night. Managed by Helen Cleveland.

St. Louis, 2427 S. 18th Street. Sponsored by Metropolitan Church Federation of St. Louis. Opened in August 1945. Managed by Marcie Sakai, succeeded by Sumiye Tashiro.

St. Paul, Kellogg Hotel, 191 W. Kellogg Blvd. Sponsored by St. Paul Resettlement Committee. Opened in October 1945 and closed in September 1948. Managed by Elizabeth Evans, later by Tomiko Ogata. Located in the Kellogg Hotel, a 17-room facility.

Washington, D.C., 2311 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. Sponsored by Washington Committee for Americans of Japanese Ancestry. Capacity of fifteen. Rates for room and board of $1.25 a night, $1.75 for the employed, 50¢ for children.

West Coast

Alameda, Methodist Church, 2311 Buena Vista. Opened in June 1945. Managed by Rev. J. B. Cobb.

Arroyo Grande Gakuen

Berkeley, Methodist Church, 1704 Carlton Avenue. Opened in April 1945. Managed by Mr. J. Yanagisawa.

Colusa Japanese School

Dinuba, Japanese Methodist Church. Opened in June 1945. Managed by Rev. M. Imai.

Dinuba, Buddhist Church. Opened in September 1945.

Florin, Japanese Methodist Church. Opened in June 1945. Managed by Rev. Y. Sasaki.

Fresno, Japanese Methodist Church, 1260 Kern St. Opened in April 1945. Fee of 25¢ a night for up to two weeks for room only. Managed by Rev. Hideo Hashimoto. Church building converted into dormitory with shower installed. No meals offered and no kitchen available.

Fresno, Fresno Buddhist Church Hostel located at 1340 Kern Street. Opened in June 1945. Capacity of about 100. Managed by Rev. K. Fujinaga and Gunichi Takata.

Gardena, 1425 W. 166th Street.

Guadalupe Buddhist Church.

Livingston, Methodist Church. Opened in April 1945. Managed by Fred Hashimoto.

El Monte, Methodist Church, 321 S. Meeker Road. Opened in April 1945. Managed by Rev. J. Yokoi.

Glendale.

Loomis, Methodist Church. Opened April 1945. Managed by David Takagishi.

Los Angeles, Evergreen Hostel, 506 North Evergreen Ave. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee and Presbyterian Church. Opened in March 1945. Capacity of up to 100. Managed by Esther Rhoads and Rev. Sohei Kowta; later by Mr. Inoshita.

Los Angeles, Centenary United Methodist Church, 3500 S. Normandie. Opened on June 12, 1945. Capacity of seventy. $1 per person per day for room and three meals, rising to $1.50 after a week or ten days. Managed by Dr. Wendell Miller and Rev. Yuzuru Yamaka.

Los Angeles, Koyasan Buddhist Temple, 342 E. First Street. Open from at least July 1945 to August 1946. Managed by Gentaro Miyahara.

Los Angeles, Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, 119 N. Central Ave. Opened in February 1945 and closed in August 1946. Managed by Rev. Julius Goldwater and later by Mr. Sakamoto.

Los Angeles, Senshin Gakuen, located on 35th Place. Managed by Rev. Julius Goldwater. Opened in February 1945.

Los Angeles, Baptist Hostel, Boyle Heights.

Los Angeles, Senshin Buddhist Temple, 1336 West 36th Place. Opened in April 1945 and open to at least the end of 1946. Capacity of 35 to 40. Managed by Rev. and Mrs. K. Imamura and Arthur Takemoto.

Los Angeles, Tenrikyo Buddhist Temple, 2727 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights. Still open at end of 1946.

Los Angeles, West Los Angeles Methodist Church, 2138 S. Beloit Ave. Sponsored by Church of New Life. Open from at least July 1945 to end of 1946. Manage by Rev. T. Iwanaga, later by Rev. Kawano. Includes two church buildings, one with a communal kitchen for families and one for bachelors.

Los Angeles, Toyo Hostel, 233 1/2 E. 1st Street. One of eight still operating in LA by end of 1946.

Los Angeles, Higashi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, 118 N. Mott Street. One of eight still operating in LA by end of 1946.

Los Angeles, Nichiren, corner of Saratogaa and 2nd Street, Boyle Heights. One of eight still operating in LA by end of 1946.

Los Angeles, Zenshuji, 123 S. Hewitt St. Closed at end of 1946.

Mountain View, Methodist Church. Opened in April 1945. Managed by Mr. Y. Tsuruda.

Oakland Japanese Methodist Church, 797 10th Street. Opened April 1945. Managed by Rev. John Yamashita. Has both men's and women's dorms, with a total capacity of about forty. Both chapel and education building used as hostel.

Oakland, Congregational hostel, 576 Sycamore Street.

Oakland, Buddhist Temple.

Oxnard Buddhist Hostel. Opened in fall of 1945 and still open as of June 1947.

Pasadena, church house of Japanese Union Church, 301 Kensington Place. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened in January 1945. Capacity of 12 or 13. AFSC sponsorship ended after one year, on January 15, 1946, with Japanese Union Church resuming use of the facility. Managed by Sarah Fields.

Portland, Portland Methodist Board of Church Extension, 315 N. W. 16th Avenue. Opened April 1945 Capacity of 60. Managed by Alice Finley.

Portland, Buddhist Church.

Riverside, Japanese Union Church, 3195 14th Street. Opened in June 1945. Managed by Rev. Masayoshi Ohmura.

Sacramento, Methodist Church Hostel No. 1, 327 O Street. Opened April 1945. Managed by Peter Osuga.

Sacramento, Hostel No. 3, 1916 7th Street. A women's dormitory with a capacity of 12 to 15. Managed by Mr. and Mrs. Nobuyoshi Sato.

Sacramento, Buddhist Church.

Sacramento, Presbyterian Hostel, 727 T Street.

Salinas, Japanese Mission Building, Presbyterian Church.

San Francisco, Japanese Methodist Church, 2025 Pine Street. Opened June 1945. Managed by Rev. S. Shimada.

San Francisco Buddhist Temple. Sponsored by temple and American Friends Service Committee. Opened in August 1945. Capacity of 15 to 20 families and 100 individuals. Attacked by vandals in September 1945.

San Francisco. Sponsored by Japanese American Sub-Committee of Friends Service Committee of San Francisco

San Francisco, Bush Street. Capacity of 12.

San Francisco. Sponsored by Booker T. Washington Institute.

San Jose, Methodist Church, 5th St. and Santa Clara Ave. Opened in April 1945. Managed by Rev. Recter Johnson.

San Jose, Japanese language school, 630 North Fifth St. Sponsored by San Jose Council for Civil Unity. Opened in Spring 1945 and closed in March 1946. Initial capacity of about 50. Managed by Torahiko Kawakami. Facility eventually expanded into gym, then into Japanese Methodist and Buddhist churches. At its peak, held 370 and total 1,423 over eighteen months.

San Jose, Konkokyo Church. Operated from late 1945 to June 30, 1946, with a peak of 30 people staying there. All but one family were Konkokyo.

San Mateo, Sturge Cottage Hostel, Sturge Presbyterian Church, 25 South Humboldt Street. Managed by Shigeru Takahashi.

Santa Barbara, Buddhist temple.

Santa Maria, Christ United Methodist Church. Also served as Civil Control Station during eviction period.

Santa Monica Gakuen, 1824 16th Street. Barracks that could house four families constructed in addition to main school building. Managed by Rev. Clyde and Lillian Burnett, later by Mr. Yamada and Tatsuo Miyake. Because a semi-permanent residence, staying open until 1955.

Seattle, Japanese Methodist Church, 1311 E. Spruce St. Opened in June 1945. Managed by Rev. T. J. Machida.

Seattle, United Church Hostel, 1236 Washington Street. Sponsored by Seattle Council of Churches. Opened in June 1945. Capacity of about 100.

Seattle, Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, King Street. Sponsored by Seattle Council of Churches.

Seattle, Fujin Home, 1102 E. Spruce Street. Sponsored by Seattle Council of Churches. Opened in July 1945.

Seattle, 3953 15th North East. Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. Opened in July 1945.

Seattle, Japanese Language School.

Stanton Japanese School.

Stockton, 1239 South Monroe Street. Operated by Frank Kaneda in building purchased by Stockton Japanese Church, May to December 1945.

Stockton, Buddhist Temple.

Tacoma, Methodist Church, 1901 Fawcett Ave. Opened April 1945. Capacity of ten. Managed by T. Seto.

Venice, Community Center, 12448 Braddock Drive. Open by July 1945. Managed by Rev. Clyde and Lillian Burnett. Fifteen trailers were purchased to provide additional housing; some were still occupied into the early 1950s.

Watsonville, Buddhist church. Open by September 1945.

FPHA Projects and Trailer Parks Specifically Established for Japanese Americans

Burbank, army barracks at Magnolia Blvd. and Lomita Street. 130 from Heart Mountain arrive on November 5, 1945. Most stay there until the facility closes in May 1946, when they are transferred to Winona trailer park.

Burbank, Winona Trailer Park, at Winona Blvd. and Hollywood Way. Initially set up the fall of 1945 as one of several Los Angeles area camps, with housing in barracks and trailers. Housed between 500 and 600 from its origin until April 1946. In May 1946, it was revamped to become the main trailer camp, when the others shut down. Housed about 1,000 people until it was shut down on September 6, 1947, when the lease for the property ran out.

El Segundo, former army barracks at Sepulveda and Mariposa. Also includes 24 one-room apartments. Populated from fall 1945 to May 1946, with peak of around 219.

Hawthorne, army barrack camp, open from fall 1945 to May 1946. Peak population of around 540.

Inglewood, army barracks and trailers, Imperial Blvd. near Inglewood-Redondo Blvd. Opened in fall of 1945.

Lomita, Lomita Air Strip. Army barracks set up with returnees arriving in October 1945. More than 1,000 there when the camp was closed in May 1946. Upon closing, most ended up at Winona, Kings Farm or California Sea Food trailer parks.

Lomita, California Sea Food trailer camp. Privately owned trailer camp opened in June 1946 to house workers for the company, initially about 135 in 46 trailers. Camp remained open to at least the end of 1948.

Long Beach, trailer camp at Santa Fe Blvd. and Burnett. Of 450 trailers in September 1946, 120 occupied by Japanese Americans.

Manteca, labor camp turned into facility for indigent Issei by San Joaquin County. 55 Issei housed here in "a barracks type building." Yoshimatsu Teraoka is paid $50 a month to be the cook and on-side manager.

Sacramento, Camp Kohler. Housed between 200 to 300 starting from November 1945. Ironically, camp is located on the same site as the Sacramento/Walerga Assembly Center in 1942.

San Diego. Four navy barracks at Lindbergh Field used to house returnees from Poston, starting December 1945.

Santa Ana, army barracks near Orange County Airport. Opened in fall of 1945, closed in April 1946. Housing 200 to 250, mostly former farming families from Orange County. Managed by Ricardo Ritchie, a Nisei working for FPHA.

Santa Clara County, 25 army barracks each housing 5 families and run by WRA; no information on location.

Santa Monica, Pico Blvd., between 24th and 25th Streets. Converted army barracks acquired by FHPA on six month lease, Oct. 1945. Facility closed on April 30, 1946.

Sun Valley, Roscoe trailer park, San Fernando Road and Olinda Street. Opened in November 1947 to house those evicted from Winona trailer park in Burbank upon its closing. Open until 1956.

Mixed Race Housing Projects with Significant Japanese American Populations

Hunter's Point, San Francisco. Dormitories without cooking facilities. More than 400 there at the end of 1946.

Richmond Housing project. 1,000 Japanese Americans living in segregated section in 1946

Vanport, Oregon. Originally built for war workers in 1942, Vanport was the country's largest housing project. Though the majority of residents were white, it had large African American and Japanese American populations; 900 Japanese Americans lived there after the war, at one time the majority of Japanese Americans in the Portland area. A 1948 flood destroyed the project and killed fifteen, including two Japanese Americans.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Austin, Allan W. Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917–1950. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012.

Copeland, Jeffrey C. "Stay for a Dollar a Day: California's Church Hostels and Support during the Japanese American Eviction and Resettlement, 1942–1947." M.A. thesis, University of Nevada, Reno, 2014.

Hayashi, Amy N. "Japanese American Resettlement: The Midwest and the Middle Atlantic States, 1942–1949." Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 2004.

Matsumoto, Toru. Beyond Prejudice: A Story of the Church and Japanese Americans. New York: Friendship Press, 1946. New York: Arno Press, 1978.

Siegel, Shizue. In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment. San Mateo, Calif.: AACP, Inc., 2006.

War Agency Liquidation Unit. People in Motion: The Postwar Adjustment of the Evacuated Japanese Americans. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, [1947].

Footnotes

  1. Jeffery C. Copeland, "Stay for a Dollar a Day: California's Church Hostels and Support during the Japanese American Eviction and Resettlement, 1942–1947," (M.A. thesis, University of Nevada, Reno, 2014), 20–26.
  2. Manzanar Free Press, Nov. 10, 1943, 3.
  3. Copeland, "Stay for a Dollar," 112; Allan W. Autsin, "Eastward Pioneers: Japanese American Resettlement during World War II and the Contested Meaning of Exile and Incarceration," Journal of American Ethnic History 26.2 (Jan. 2007), 64; Charles Kikuchi Diary, Nov. 1, 1943, page 3673, The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement: A Digital Archive, The Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley (hereafter referred to as JERS Digital Archive), call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder W 1.80:22**, accessed on Jan. 9, 2015 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b305w01_0080_22.pdf.
  4. Togo Tanaka, "Agencies Assisting Resettlement and Resettler Adjustments, Chapter III," 14, Jan. 22, 1944, JERS Digital Archive, call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder T1.852, accessed on Sept. 24, 2014 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b278t01_0852.pdf; Charles Kikuchi Diary, Oct. 25, 1943, page 3540, which quotes Smetzer based on Kikuchi's interview of him, JERS Digital Archive, call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder W 1.80:21**, accessed on Jan. 9, 2015 at http://cdn.calisphere.org/data/28722/81/bk001339g81/files/bk001339g81-FID1.pdf. Esther Rhoads, who assisted Japanese Americans in a variety of capacities during the war, echoes Smeltzer on hostel dwellers finding better jobs. See Esther B. Rhoads, "My Experience with the Wartime Relocation of Japanese," in East Across the Pacific: Historical and Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration and Assimilation, edited by Hilary Conroy and T. Scott Miyakawa (Santa Barbara, Calif.: American Bibliographic Center-Clio Press, 1972), 137.
  5. Rocky Shimpo, Feb. 5, 1945, 1; Copeland, "Stay for a Dollar," 86; Poston Chronicle, Feb. 17, 1945, 1; Pacific Citizen, May 5, 1945, 4 and July 28, 1945, 8, accessed on Mar. 2, 2015 at http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19450505_004.jpg and http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19450728_008.jpg.
  6. Rohwer Outpost, Apr. 11, 1945, 1; Audrie Girdner and Anne Loftis, The Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of the Japanese-Americans during World War II (London: MacMillan, 1969), 408–09; Rohwer Outpost, May 19, 1945, 3. Quote attributed to an Issei named Oshiro from a report by Asael Hansen, "Economic Adjustment," Report #30, Aug. 20, 1946, for the resettlement study of the War Agency Liquidation Unit, JERS Digital Archive, call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder W 2.13, accessed on Sept. 4, 2014 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b315w02_0013.pdf.
  7. Pacific Citizen, Sept. 29, 1945, 1, accessed on Mar. 2, 2015 at http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19450929_001.jpg; Copeland, "Stay for a Dollar," 93.
  8. Pacific Citizen, Dec. 15, 1945, 2; Copeland, "Stay for a Dollar," 102; Hillary Jenks, "'Home Is Little Tokyo': Race, Community, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, 2008, 168.
  9. First quote attributed to K. Matsumoto, a 50 year old Issei bookkeeper, Tom Sasaki, "Japanese Business," Report #27, Aug. 7, 1946, 6; the second quote is attributed to Rev. Sohei Kowta, the Issei director of the Evergreen Hostel, Tom Sasaki, "Evergreen Hostel," Aug. 9, 1946, 1–2. Both reports were conducted as part of the resettlement study of the War Agency Liquidation Unit, JERS Digital Archive, call number BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder W 2.11:1, accessed on Sept. 5, 2014 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b315w02_0011_1.pdf.
  10. Quote from Pacific Citizen, Nov. 10, 1945, 6; Pacific Citizen, Dec. 22, 1945, 1, both accessed on Mar. 2, 2015 at http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19451110_006.jpg and http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19451222_003.jpg
  11. Pacific Citizen, Mar. 30, 1946, 1; May 18, 1946, 1–2; May 25, 1946, 3; quote from Pacific Citizen, May 25, 1946, 5, all accessed on Mar. 2, 2015 at http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19460330_001.jpg, http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19460518_001.jpg, http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19460518_002.jpg, http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19460525_003.jpg, and http://www.pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19460525_005.jpg.
  12. Dana Lyn Blakemore, "From Settlement to Resettlement: Japanese Americans in (And Out of) Santa Monica, California, 1899–1960," M.A. Thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2000, 145–48; Girdner and Anne Loftis, The Great Betrayal, 410; Marc Igler, "Both Fond, Bitter Memories: Post-War Trailer Park Refugees Plan Reunion," Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1986, accessed on Mar. 2, 2015 at http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-05/news/we-9773_1_trailer-camps.