The texts in this section reflect the opinions and analyzes of the authors. 

Housing, gentrification and immigration in Lisbon

The Lisbon housing market, which has always been very diverse (socially and culturally), is currently experiencing a new stage of gentrification in everything different from the 20th century, largely due to the explosion of various forms of tourist accommodation, promoted mainly by the large foreign investment injected by large landlords and large economic groups promoting real estate, but also qualified immigrants belonging to a transnational elite. While residents in the historic centre, many of them the poorest and most vulnerable immigrants who have always mobilized housing in low-income neighbourhoods as a precarious alternative to their housing, continue to influence the area, gentrification is often accompanied by larger real estate agents and the urban rehabilitation begins to appear as a priority political and economic strategy for the revitalization of the historic centre. As a result of the increase in the volume of real estate interventions, physical and architectural improvements become increasingly visible at this stage. In other words, the historic centre has always been a space for social and ethnic mix.

Two major trends of urban appropriation coexist at the moment: the most vulnerable immigrants continue to occupy some multicultural neighbourhoods in the historic centre, at the same time that gentrification begins to invade these spaces. At present, house prices in these neighbourhoods are beginning to rise galloping, due to the distortions introduced in the permanent housing and long-term rental market, due to the increase in the supply of tourist accommodation. Without regulation or moderate control over rising rents, the eviction process expands to more aggressive forms, as the real estate values of the neighbourhoods also increase and the State approves legislation that facilitates private initiative and the eviction of local inhabitants and traders many of them being immigrants.

The best maintained housing and commercial properties become part of the upper and upper-middle class market as owners seek to take advantage of the area’s enhanced notoriety, which in turn leads to further eviction. It is feared that the historic centre, due to the social polarization and residential segregation that it has been registering, will lose its important secular characteristics of social, ethnic and cultural mixture, where the role of immigration has been determining, for so many generations, to generate social inclusion and cultural diversity. After all, the basis of social sustainability and resilience of these communities.

Text written by Luís Mendes, Geographer CEG/IGOT-UL
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