DASH Thematic Workshop at ULisboa

By Hans Thor Andersen

As announced in the previous newsletter, the DASH Thematic Workshop took place on 9 April 2024 at ICS-UL. This year’s theme was “The role of the private sector in delivering below-market rent options”. Keynote speakers included Nuno Travasso from DARQ – Coimbra University, who talked about access to the rental market in Portugal – specifically the affordable rent programme; and Patricia Canelas from Oxford University, who presented her findings on the governance of affordable housing through PPPs – specifically the limits of private/public dichotomies. If you missed it, check out their contributions on YouTube.

Credits for images: DASH project 2024

Introduction: welcome by Alda Botelho Azevedo, ICS-ULisboa. Project officer Desislava Kolarova led an information session on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Staff Exchanges-program. She strongly recommended studying new opportunities in the MSCA program. Her presentation was followed by a Q & A session.

The role of the private sector in delivering below-market rent options was briefly presented by Sónia Alves, ICS-ULisboa. After her short overview, associate professor Nuno Travasso, from DARQ – Coimbra University, gave an interesting presentation on “Access to the rental market in Portugal: the affordable rent programme”. Contrary to what most would think, the new Affordable Housing scheme is not about providing housing for the poorest but for the part of the middle class that does not have the financial prerequisites to secure suitable housing via the free market. In practice, this meant that an otherwise well-off part of the population received public support to acquire housing. But the gap between the most socially vulnerable and those entitled to support in the Affordable Housing scheme, due to the high property prices in Lisbon and Porto, is quite large. In fact, those entitled to support by the programme make up close to 80% of all households in Lisbon and approx. 50% in Porto. This scheme gave landlords a 20% reduction in property tax to incentivise them to offer below-market rents, as long as the rent burden on their tenants was less than 35% of their household income.

Patrícia Canelas, Oxford University, gave a stimulating presentation of the paper, “The governance of affordable housing through PPPs: the limits of private/public dichotomies”. She argued that, despite the different logic and raison-d’être, the public and private sector must cooperate to enable affordability at a larger scale. She also argued that the two sectors are seen as too contrasting and that they are not always so different – or do not need to be. She was followed by Simone Tulumello, ICS-ULisboa, who discussed the two contributions, doing his best to provoke a stimulating discussion by, amongst other things, accusing the EU of pushing Portugal into a poverty trap. Interestingly, he also argued that affordable housing should not be the goal as it takes away the focus from what is really needed: social housing. Afterwards, an open discussion followed.

In the afternoon session, Hans Thor Andersen organised a “Reflection and cross-evaluation” based on the presentations in the morning session. DASH participants discussed the presentations and much more for nearly 2 hours.