CRIT seminar series, 4th edition

26th May, 15 h. Sala de Junes, Facultat d’economia i empresa UB

Avinguda Diagonal, 696, Barcelona

Austerity effects on housing in Greece: challenges for housing policy

Dimitra Siatitsa

Dr. Architect-Urbanist, independent researcher, special advisor of the Alternate Minister of Solidarity

Greece

Abstract

The implementation of austerity politics in Greece is marked by its introduction in the European Mechanism of Support in 2010 and the consecutive memoranda of understanding adopted under the monitoring of EU institutions and the IMF (the latest in August 2015). The imposed public debt management measures had devastating social, economic and political effects.

Although housing, both in terms of production (real-estate, construction) and consumption (private debt), is not closely related to the causes of the crisis, it emerged as one of its most dramatic side effects. Almost six years later Greece is facing a severe and escalating housing crisis affecting broader parts of the population, as housing precariousness, deprivation and exclusion are multiplied. This is coupled by a steep recession in the housing market and construction sector, the destabilisation of previous economic and societal arrangements for access to housing and the total absence of tools and resources for the implementation of housing policy. The entrapment of more than 50.000 of refugees in the country, aggravates this situation, but also renders even more urgent the need for public intervention in housing.
At the same time, despite being a very pressing concern for the Greek society, alternative claims and practices have not been elaborated deeply neither from movements or social actors, nor from political parties or even the new left in government. Nevertheless, a recent wave of occupations to house refugees has emerged during the last months in the context of a broad solidarity movement.

Given this context, the presentation will focus on challenges and ambiguities regarding a very much needed new housing strategy. Directions for housing policy are oscillating at the moment between the usual “laissez faire” (anticipating the revival of the previous model based on home-ownership, minimal state provisions and new housing constructions) on the one hand, and setting the ground for a new social and collective housing agenda based on principles of justice and rights, while redirecting the construction sector towards rehabilitation and reuse of the available stock and developing social and solidarity economy structures.