House ownership and eviction in Lisbon: statistics and people that don't want to be visible
Ana Luísa Micaelo (University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL))
Paper short abstract:
Ten years after the global financial crisis emerged, I'll address the way in which to buy a house in Portugal, seen intersubjectively as a safe investment in real estate, family savings and heritage, turns out to be a nexus of endless indebtedness, and a real chance of eviction and displacement.
Paper long abstract:
Portugal has one of the highest rates of house ownership in Europe. Once housing mortgage and credit encouraging were seen as an effective public policy to offset the absence of a social housing policy, the process known as financialization took over Portuguese household strategies entailed in credit, making no distinction between the upper, middle and working classes, nor between workers and the unemployed, retirees and social grant beneficiaries. For decades, to get a mortgage loan to buy a house was a decision based on an effective economic rationality. Ten years after the global financial crisis emerged, I'll address the way in which to own a house, seen intersubjectively as a safe investment in real estate, family savings and heritage, turns out to be a nexus of endless indebtedness, a real chance of home-loss and personal insolvency. Increasing about 400% per year, insolvency is a technical euphemism for family bankruptcy, meaning, for those affected, eviction, displacement and total dispossession, court guardianship, new dependencies and moral meanings, great sorrow and social suffering. In addition, and despite the considerable changes in recent public policy orientations in Portugal, the total number of evictions (which includes those carried out by the state, as well as by banks and other private institutions) is rarely calculated and even less debated. Drawing on fieldwork among crisis-afflicted and indebted households in Lisbon since 2015, this paper addresses the dilemma of the foreclosure and eviction of the «family house» and the invisibility of the displaced.
Vulnerability and housing policies: anthropological insights across Europe