Outcomes of Urban Requalification Under Neoliberalism: A Critical Appraisal of the SRU Model
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The context of crisis and austerity has provided a legitimate alibi for the inscription of neoliberal narratives grounded in the virtues of the market in Portugal. In 2004 the state enacted a new model of ‘urban requalification’, enabling the creation of Urban Requalification Societies (SRU in the Portuguese acronym) that initiated entrepreneurial and discretionary models of decision and delivery beyond existing state bureaucracies. Based on both quantitative and qualitative evidence from the cases of Lisbon and Porto, this paper offers a critical appraisal of the efficacy of these organizations to secure the provision of affordable rental housing in situ and to maintain less resourceful families in the city centres. Results show that the SRU model, combined with restrictive funding schemes and neoliberal politics, which have promoted the gradual liberalization of rent controls and real estate speculation, have reinforced processes of social and spatial inequality.
Within the framework of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, Sónia Alves has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 747257. We also acknowledge financial support from FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., under the project Sustainable urban requalification and vulnerable populations in the historical centre of Lisbon (PTDC/GES-URB/28853/2017).
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