#Mots-clés : Dernière mise à jour le 23 June 2019


History of Towns – Heritage

The slums in Portugal fit into a historical context due to the widespread 0f illegal construction that was relatively tolerated. Thus, it is estimated that between 1970 and 1980, 30% of housing constructions are made without authorization or registration at the land registry. Today many legal districts come from clandestine constructions regularized and strengthened over the years. Beyond the legality of occupation, the slum is also characterized by the degrading state of the building. Many situations coexist: Poor construction with wood and zinc, very unhealthy as compared to those that are stronger, with well furnished stories. The degrading state of each slum often corresponds to the time it was built. The neighborhoods of Lisbon Barracks played a role of reception of migrants, who first of all came from Portuguese groups then the former colonies in Africa and Asia.

To learn more about the slums in Lisbon: CITEGO.

Following the acceptance of Portugal to join the European Union in 1986 and the financial assistance which followed, the country then embarked on a policy of massive construction of housing 0f moderate costs as well as the liquidation of large areas of informal Habitat (Special relodging programme – PER). However, this policy did not produce the awaited results. True a large part of the population was relocated and the majority of the slums within the city properly speaking, were eradicated, but poor people were relodged  in distant places and in bad quality homes, off the central  towns as well as out of sight of the middle class and the high in the society

Source : Today, the Portugal always removes his slums in the world.

Urban Habitat

Rural Habitat


Right to Housing

Portugal is the first European country to have stated in its constitution in 1976 that ‘everyone should have right to housing of adequate size, satisfactory standards of hygiene and comfort and preserving personal and family life’. The State is responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of this law through the implementation of housing policy in cooperation with local authorities. Similarly, voluntary organizations have become as in all the Member States, the main services providers for the homeless.

Article 65 of the Constitution

  • 1. everyone has the right for himself and his family, to a dwelling of suitable size, that meets the standards of hygiene and comfort and which preserves personal and family privacy.
  • 2. to ensure the right to housing, the state has) to plan and implement a housing policy which fits into the general land use plans and which relies on plans of urbanization guaranteeing the existence of a network of transport and appropriate social amenities; (b) to build, in collaboration with local communities, economic and social housing; and (c) to stimulate private construction while subordinating it to the general interest.
  • 3. The State will adopt a policy to establish a system of rents compatible with family income and access to home ownership.
  • 4. The State and local governments will exercise effective oversight of the real estate property will take over local or regional urban territories if necessary and will establish rules for the use.

Source : CETIM (publication COHRE).

However, until the end of the years ‘ 90, social housing policies were not able to meet the needs for housing of poor people. It is only in the middle of the ‘ 90s as the special re – housing program to combat more effectively the problems of housing for thousands of families who have lived in the barracks and degrading housing conditions for decades came to place. But it is true that the system put in place made almost untenable the investment system in social housing established by the Portugal.

Source: 2012 CECODHAS report.

The current Government has presented the details of a new contract of lease. With this new law, the Government intends to introduce a new system of update of rents, by removing the remedies before the courts (which may mean privatization of the right to housing in a constitutional manner), and reduced to three months possible expulsion. This procedure went on, under the old system, in accordance with the previous law, between 16 to 18 months.

Portugal signed the revised European Social Charter on 30/05/2002, by accepting the totality of its 98 paragraphs, including article 31 on the right to lodging. He has accepted the additional protocol providing for a system of collective complaints on 20/03/1998, but has not yet made a declaration enabling national NGOs to submit collective complaints.


Source : FEANTSA, 2012

Forced Evcitions


Land Law

Land Grabbing


Vulnerable Groups

  • Joungpeople
  • Old people
  • Women

Some interesting Practices

  • PARTICIPATORY BUDGET:  Cascais is a relatively wealthy city in the metropolitan area of Lisbon with a little more than 200,000 inhabitants. He started to implement Agenda 21 in 2006, and the BP as a result of this process. It provides a good example of the importance of the projects related to the environment in the context of the PB. For more on the concept of PB or read the report by Prof. Y. c on this (IIED 2014):
  • A specific youth “Porta 65-Jovem” device: this device is intended to stimulate: more self-sufficient lifestyles for part of the youths, living with family or in cohabitation; rehabilitation of degraded urban areas and the revitalization of the rental market. This device supports rental housing by allocating a percentage of the value of the rent as monthly subsidy to the tenant. Interested youth must meet the conditions of access and submit their application via the structure in charged.
  • In Portugal, the cooperative housing  developed much as from 1975, with the change of Regime policy. Initially, the main objective of cooperative housing was to provide inexpensive housing for low income families and therefore to improve their quality of life. During the past thirty years, the operation of housing cooperatives has changed dramatically, which led to providing accommodations only for moderate or high income families. Info: study on cooperatives of habitat in Portugal.
  • The Institute for Housing and Urban Renewal (IHRU):  the Institute for housing and urban rehabilitation mission is to ensure and achieve the policy defined by the Government regarding the areas of habitat, of the urban rehabilitation , in a way articulated with the policy of cities and with other social policies and backup and enhancement of the heritage, the memory of the buildings and their evolutions. Habitat is the main area of activity of the Institute. Through the IHRU  the Government promotes the creation of social housing on the outskirts, promises the recovery of degraded or abandoned buildings in the downtown to sell at auction and support the home ownership.


The Housing Market

A Majority of Homeowners

As is the case in other countries of southern Europe, an analysis of the housing market in Portugal shows that the proportion of home ownership is much higher than that of the rental sector. This strong tradition of property is also a problem for the low-income groups in terms of access to housing. CECODHAS, in 2011, 75% of Portuguese households were homeowners (average European = 65%); 18 per cent were renting in the private market; 3% were tenants of social housing and 4% “other”.

The quality of lodging for many poor families is a pity: in rural areas, these people live in houses that are dilapidated; in urban areas, in ‘cabins’ in major cities. (Source: Habitat for Humanity Portugal).
Source: Habitat for Humanity Portugal.

Informal Settlements / Slums / Homeless


Public Housing

Definition and situation in 2012

In Portugal the term “social housing” is widely used by the authorities and by the institutional bodies, with a legal concept based on the 1983 legislation defining social housing as a housing built and acquired with the financial assistance of the State, through tax benefits and funding for the acquisition of the land, the construction and the promotion of housing. It includes the provision of housing into home ownership or rental to persons or households below a certain income, as well as measures relating to specific groups targeted by the programs of housing and redevelopment of urban areas (see below). This mission can be carried out by public bodies (municipalities, central Government, etc), cooperatives, private and social institutions. Social housing represents 3.3% of the national park.


How does it work ?

In Portugal, there are developers and managers of housing, both in the public sector and in the cooperative sector or volunteer not-for-profit sector. Municipalities (directly or through municipal housing companies) are the main providers of social housing in Portugal.  The public sectors also involved in the provision of social housing the Institute for housing and Urbanrenewal (IHRU) and regional organizations (such as HMI and EPERAM in Madeira). Cooperatives, co-financed by the State, provide some controlled cost housing .

In Portugal there are various programs that meet various criteria eligibility and priority of access to social housing:

  • Relocation PER package which gives priority to people living in the slums of large metropolitan urban areas.

  • Program PROHABITA -gives priority to people whose income is less than three times the annual minimum wage, people who do not own any lodgings on the national territory and have no financial assistance for housing.

  • PORTA 65 JOVEM – helping young people to access housing for rent. One of the criteria for this award is that the gross monthly income of the household “must match the interval between 1 and 4 times the maximum rent allowed in the region”.

  • Urban rehabilitation programs involving the rehabilitation of buildings or housing for rent affected by the long period of freezing rents and who have consequently suffered serious damage.

  • NRAU -the new urban rent regime creates a housing allowance for the benefit of low-income households, with pre-1990 rental contracts, in order to compensate for the updating of rents frozen.

Source : CECODHAS Report 2012

Point of view of civil society

  • According to the CECOHAS, the inadequate level of assistance combined with low rents, which often do not cover construction costs, makes the current system of funding of social housing quite untenable in Portugal.

  • The law 6/2006 of the “new urban rent regime” is very discredited: according to the Association of tenants of beauty – GARLIC, the law violates the constitutional right to housing by allowing an increase in rents without increase in the purchasing power of the tenants, favoring evictions due to important work or demolition without relocation proposal.


Bibliography and Sitography

  • The concept of “MIMA HOUSE” was conceived by two Portuguese architects who received the “2011 Building of the Year Prize” from Archdaily, a US architecture website. The Mima House is prefabricated module house that can be built in less than two months and purchased for prices starting at 39,000 euros. Website


Video of the association “La Chaîne” : “European Coalition of Housing Rights and the Right to the City in ATHENS 21 and 22 June 2015”

Major Problems

In Portugal, the housing crisis is characterized by:

  • The degradation and vacancy of housing in city centers
  • Real estate speculation in city centers
  • A lack of basic infrastructure
  • An overdeveloped property market
  • The persistence of shantytowns
  • The emergence of public re-housing neighborhoods, often located on outskirts of cities, which deny inhabitants to their right to the city. These public housing neighborhoods are on the verge of imploding, as a result of overpopulation, dilapidated buildings, high concentrations of social problems, the stigmatization of their residents, social division, and so on.
  • Homelessness
  • Evictions

One source: Article on Lisbon’s shantytowns

AIL has denounced the law on the New Urban Rent Regime (“Novo Regime do Arrendamento Urbano”) as an “eviction law,” on the grounds that this is its ultimate purpose: ending contracts predating 1990; imposing rents tied to speculative markets; facilitating evictions; eliminating stable rents; obstructing social and economic action; promoting real estate speculation; and authorizing leases without enforcing hygienic standards.

The association SOLIM denounces:

  • the unhygienic conditions in which thousands of people live
  • the inaccessibility of the private housing market, primarily in cities
  • thousands of abandoned buildings in cities
  • the inefficiency of existing legislation
  • the state’s increasingly hands-off approach

Claims and demands

AIL demands: A reformulation of the new law on rents (“Novo Regime do Arrendamento Urbano”), which threatens thousands of people with eviction and the loss of work spaces. Source: AIL.

SOLIM demands:

  • Dignified housing for all, without discrimination; the construction and promotion of a housing market with prices adapted to each individual’s income, as specified in article 65, section 3, of the Portuguese constitution.
  • The improvement of hygiene and the re-housing of thousands of people living in inhuman conditions
  • The rehabilitation of the many empty buildings in Lisbon for people who need them
  • The suspension of demolitions without a corresponding commitment to re-housing in neighborhoods with makeshift homes; the pursuit for solutions for all families
  • Fighting real estate speculation and housing discrimination

Source: Solim


Some Actors

  • ASSOCIAÇAO DOS INQUILINOS LISBONENSES – AIL = The Lisbon tenants’ association. A cooperative created in 1924, AIL offers legal support for all questions related to the rental property management and tenants’ rights. It also offers administrative support for the management of cooperatives. Its website presents all legal texts related to urban renting. Website
  • ASSOCIAÇAO DE INQUILINOS DO NORTE DE PORTUGAL – AINP = The northern Portugal tenants’ association. Founded in 1949, the AINP defends tenants’ interests. Its mailing address is: Rua Firmeza 107,4000-228 PORTO
  • HABITAT FOR HUMANITY PORTUGAL = A not-for-profit humanitarian association that seeks to eradicate poverty as it relates to housing, as well as homelessness. To do so, it builds and refurbishes housing throughout the world, offering micro-credit and loans, helping to make housing safe and healthy, and advocating affordable housing for all. In Portugal, it helps low-income families to build on their own land and to renovate their homes using local materials. WebsiteContact them.
  • HABITA – COLECTIVO PELO DIREITO À HABITAÇÃO E À CIDADE = An organization that fights for housing rights and the right to the city. Contact them.
  • SOLIM – ASSOCIACAO SOLIDARIEDADE IMMIGRANTE E DIREITO A HABITACAO = Solidariedade Imigrante is a national organization that was created in 2001 to defend immigrants rights in Portugal. The association seeks to give immigrants an autonomous and independent voice, so that they can take the lead in defending their interests. The association’s sphere of activities include: interculturalism and citizenship, housing rights, youth, immigrant women, and employment. In response to families living in neighborhoods with makeshift housing, Solim created a housing rights group in 2005. Their homes were to be destroyed with no possibility for being re-housed. Since then, the association has developed activities favoring individuals who lack access to housing. Website.