1400 keys delivered in Lisbon. But what does this number mean?

Moedas spends his time talking about keys and, in November, he put up posters around the city celebrating the milestone of 1,400 keys delivered. But what are these keys, anyway? And what does this number mean?

LPP illustration

"We've passed the 1500 keys handed out. These keys represent a change in the lives of several families and also represent the work we have been doing in the area of housing." This text is from a publication made by Carlos Moedas on social media on December 5th. The Mayor of Lisbon once again spoke of keys handed over. There are now 1500. There were 1,400 a month earlier. And 1,300 before that.

Moedas is a skillful and intelligent communicator. It simplifies messages into large numbers that are easy for people to remember. ordinary peopleYou can show them that you're doing things - or, as you prefer to say, that you're making things happen. And this allows you to show them that you are doing things - or, as you prefer to say, that you are making things happen.

But also it's easy to be fooled by statistics, it's important to take a closer look at some of the figures they present to us. It's no different with keys. What are these keys, anyway? What are these 1400 keys?

"They correspond to the number of homes delivered since the beginning of the current mandate - New Times -, a number that has evolved in the meantime, corresponding on October 30, 2023 to 1434 homes delivered.”

The answer comes from Lisbon City Council itself, which in November put up posters in the city's streets, avenues and squares announcing the milestone of 1,400 keys handed over. These keys are distributed among the different municipal housing programsfrom the Affordable Rent Program, aimed at the middle class, to the Supported Rent Program, for the most needy, not forgetting those who are not covered by any of these programs because they have monthly incomes between 500 euros and the national minimum wage.

The 1434 keys distributed among the different municipal programs (LPP graph, with CML data)

In a table:

742 keysin the Supported Rental Program (most needy)
72 keysin two extraordinary Affordable Rent tenders aimed at families with monthly incomes between 500 euros and the national minimum wage
620 keysin the Affordable Income Program (middle class)
1434 keysfrom the beginning of the mandate until October 30, 2023

Not included in this list of keys is the support granted under the Affordable Rent Subsidy, which as of October 30 had 979 beneficiaries.

Keys handed over ≠ new houses

Handing over a key doesn't necessarily mean a new house. Every year, housing in the city's municipal districts is left empty, rehabilitated and then handed over to a new family. "Since the beginning of the mandate, a major investment effort has been made to rehabilitate vacant municipal housing, which is one of the housing policy priorities of the current mandate"explains the municipality to LPP.

In 2022Gebalis, the municipal housing company in charge of managing these neighborhoods, rehabilitated 327 homes e, this year, up to October 30, it had restored 530 houses. "The vast majority were delivered under the housing programs mentioned and some are awaiting allocation."

And how do the 1434 keys compare with previous mandates? In his last term at the head of Lisbon City Hall (2017-2021), Fernando Medina handed out 2181 keys, which is around 545 houses a year. The annual average number of coins, considering the data as of October 30, 2023, is more than 700.

Allocation of keys over the years, since 2015 (LPP graph with CML data)

Since 2015, the allocation of housing has been as follows: 738 houses in 2023 (data up to October 30); 696 houses in 2022; 521 houses in 2021 (until October, the month of the transition of municipal mandates); 551 houses in 2020; 710 houses in 2019; 399 houses in 2018; 431 houses in 2017; 451 houses in 2016; 312 houses in 2015.

Housing shortages are higher

The distribution of keys accompanies not only the course of municipal housing programs and the usual rotation of houses within municipal districts, but also the construction or rehabilitation of heritage to make available to the population through these programs - and this work of construction and rehabilitation often goes beyond electoral cycles.

In any case, the housing shortage in Lisbon today is greater than the delivery of 1,400 or 1,500 keys. According to Lisbon Municipal Housing Charter, currently under public discussionThe greatest shortages are the result of "skyrocketing housing prices" which "is not accompanied by growth in household income"This is evident, for example, in the high demand for the available supply in the municipal affordable/supported rent programs; also of concern are vulnerable groups, such as the homeless and victims of domestic violence, or families living in undignified housing conditions or in overcrowded conditions.

Lisbon City Council estimates that it will be able to obtain 9,000 houses from its assets to fill some of these shortages over the next 10 years. At the same time, it has identified 23,577 houses under municipal management that are unoccupied or improperly occupied, and 47,748 vacant houses, many of which are vacant. These are some of the resources available to the municipality to respond to the housing crisis and the shortages identified.