LISBON CÂMARA is currently compiling the most detailed and thorough report ever carried out into the state of the city’s housing. The information, which should be ready within six months, will form an invaluable diagnostic tool to see which buildings are and are not occupied, which need refurbishment and those that need rebuilding.
The report is part of the council’s ongoing plan, initiated five years ago, to restore and modernise Lisbon. During the past two council mandates, thousands of the câmara’s buildings have been refurbished following years of neglect and stagnation in which the city’s older real estate was allowed to fall into disrepair.
Also at the heart of the problem were landlords who were unable to charge rents in line with true market values, because of outdated leases that fixed rents at artificially low levels. As a result, landlords preferred to let buildings literally fall down in order to sell the land to property developers at a later date.
Lisbon city councillor, Maria José Nogueira Pinto, who holds the council’s housing portfolio, knows that the council needs strategic partners in order to solve the problem of rundown estate. “We need to count on the help of private companies to form joint housing associations and co-operatives with the council,” she says, adding that one of the main priorities for this term is “re-constructing what we already have”.
“It may be that the study reveals that we will have to re-house people in new apartment blocks, while in other cases we will have to temporarily house tenants while their new homes are being built,” she stressed. “Despite the problems, we have come a long way. There are no longer shanty towns in Lisbon and many buildings have been refurbished.”