Amadora: 800 families still waiting for a housing solution


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The mayor of Amadora says she is following a policy of not building more public housing ghettos, in a densely populated area of 24 square kilometers, where about 800 families are waiting for a more dignified housing solution.

“Considering also the characteristics of the municipality, we have, basically, four public housing units: the Zambujal neighborhood, Casal do Silva, Casal da Boba and Casal da Mira”, Carla Tavares said to Lusa, regarding the 30 years of the Special Rehousing Program (PER), that the municipality of Amadora, in the Lisbon district, only signed in October 1995, two years after the formal constitution of the plan.

The official explained that rehousing is a particularly difficult issue when you have “a small territory, one of the most densely populated in the country,” and when public housing is already “higher than the national percentage.

“We have about 2,880 homes – 3.2% of housing is public housing – and, also given the characteristics of the county, we have, in essence, four units. And we have had a policy of not building more ghettos of public housing, trying as much as possible, through non-refundable support and municipal programs, to support people by optimizing the vacant housing in the private park,” he stressed.

Carla Tavares spoke to Lusa in Damaia, near the land previously occupied by the Estrela de África and 6 de Maio neighborhoods, whose last precarious dwellings were demolished about two years ago by the local authority.

The socialist recalled that for the rehousing of these residents a new housing neighborhood was not built. Rather, “the housing stock was optimized” in the four public housing areas, also in this case with non-refundable subsidies.

The municipality of Amadora was, “by political choice”, the last to sign the agreement to join the PER, launched by the government to eradicate the so-called shacks in metropolitan areas. At the time, the municipality had “around 26,000 people living in the 34 districts registered” in the program.

As the first public policy measure for housing, considered the mayor, the PER was important, by allowing the eradication of neighborhoods where people lived in an undignified situation. “It’s a shame that afterwards, over the years, it hasn’t been updated,” she lamented.

“All the communities that lived in our neighborhoods had lived here for many years. We’re talking about communities that settled in the early 1970s, so the 6 de Maio neighborhood, the Estrela de África neighborhood were no different from the other realities of any of the other neighborhoods,” he explained.

Carla Tavares also remembered the neighborhoods of Fontainhas, Azul, Altos dos Trigueiros, Quinta do Conde Araújo, Quinta da Conceição, Fonte dos Passarinhos, and Azinhaga dos Besouros, which have also disappeared.

At stake were always “complex processes of advances and retreats”, trying to find, “even in families that were not registered in the PER, alternatives and solutions that went through the most varied situations”.

“We often get asked a lot of questions why these processes aren’t much faster. They are difficult processes, we are talking about people. Each case is a case, they are made of many advances and many retreats and, for this very reason, they are also very slow processes”, he admitted, reacting to criticisms from the population and from associations that defend the right to decent housing.

In that area of Damaia, the goal of the municipality “is not to do any construction,” assured. In the old 6 de Maio there will be a traffic distribution road to facilitate access to CRIL (Cintura Regional Interna de Lisboa) and where the new Social Center will come out 6 de Maio, built from scratch.

In the remaining lands, some private, the idea is to deliver the space to the population’s use, as happened with the Aventura Park, built after the eradication of the clandestine neighborhood of Ribeira da Falagueira.

In relation to the so-called PER neighborhoods, Carla Tavares said that only the case of Quinta da Laje, which “is already at a more advanced stage”, and the Military Road remain to be solved.

“The Military Road has very specific social characteristics, more difficult than Quinta da Laje, and, therefore it is a process that we are also working on, that will happen, not with the same speed, because the social reality is also completely different,” he acknowledged.

According to data from the municipality, when Amadora signed the PER protocol, in 1995, 4,855 precarious constructions were registered, occupied by 6,138 families.

As the survey was updated over the years, the number of families living in the buildings changed, due to natural growth, the arrival of new families, and the abandonment/death of others, so the number of registered households increased to 7,406 (1,268 more than the initial number).

Of this total, 809 still need a housing alternative.

Between 1995 and April of this year, the City Council of Amadora rehoused 2,591 families and granted rental support to another 1,542 households. Another 2,465 families ended up fitting in, according to the municipality, in other situations, such as death, marriage, or social autonomy/abandonment of the neighborhoods.

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