The Gabinete Técnico de Habitação and Social Housing Reform in Lisbon (1959–1969 )

Crisis Unconsidered, Manufactured Crisis
By João Pedro Nunes

In the 1960s, the Lisbon city council gave the Gabinete Técnico de Habitação the responsibility of implementing a vast social housing scheme. Parallel to the planning and construction of Lisbon’s first grand-scale housing estates, this technical office drew up a statistical diagnosis of the city’s housing shortage. The survey, which focused on shantytowns, subletting practices and overcrowding in housing, enabled the Gabinete to ascertain the existence of a crisis situation in the housing sector. In analysing both the political term of “housing crisis” and the criticism that was levelled against the Estado Novo’s lines of policy, we lay out the thought processes and decisions behind the reform of social housing that was initiated towards the end of the decade. The history of this housing crisis sheds light on the various shifts in the way the state addressed the “housing problem” in Lisbon in the last years of the dictatorial regime, when Portugal entered a stage of accelerated urbanisation.

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