Lisbon goes to battle against Airbnb
Around one third of all apartments in Lisbon city centre are rented out to tourists via platforms such as Airbnb. Lisbon's Mayor Fernando Medina has announced plans to change this after Covid-19 by offering financial incentives to landlords who make their housing available to those who live and work in the city permanently. Is this the right strategy from an urban planning perspective?
Revive city centres
Those who work in Lisbon should once again be able to live there too, Mayor Fernando Medina explains in The Independent:
“Prioritising affordable housing for the hospital staff, transport workers, teachers and thousands of others who provide our essential services is possible. We're offering to pay landlords to turn thousands of short-term lets into 'safe rent' homes for key workers. It's a bold strategy that offers landlords long-term, stable incomes and gives us the chance to recreate a more vibrant, healthier and equitable city. From Melbourne to Paris, the tide is turning against urban sprawl and back to revitalised city centres where residents can reach key services, like doctors, schools and shops all within a 20-minute walk.”
Late but not too late
Ricardo Moreira, deputy of the left-wing Bloco de Esquerda party in Lisbon's city parliament, expresses delight with the announcement in Público:
“The pandemic has given the housing crisis even more prominence: those who live in precarious or overcrowded conditions can't defend themselves against the virus, and those who now find themselves in poverty must fear for the roof over their head. ... Now Medina seems to want to send a new signal: Lisbon must be inhabited, it can't just be visited. We interpret this step by the Socialist Party as a positive signal in the direction of what we have long been advocating. We must create a diverse city where families can settle and where tourism is not the only economic activity. For many people this comes late, but for Lisbon it is never too late.”