If one day we write the story of the years Lisbon fell on the world stage and discuss all the good and bad things that happened to the city during that time, there will surely be a paragraph or chapter about the people of Lisbon. A specific building in a specific neighborhood. At number 25 on Rua dos Lagares, the need sparked an activism that residents were unable to engage in and their struggle extended beyond the borders of Mouraria.
“When we received the eviction notice, the earth shook. And to this day it has not stopped shaking, ”comments Carla Pinheiro, the woman who went to the Lisbon Chamber in 2017 to ask for help.
Four years ago, 16 families in this building were informed that their leases would not be renewed, which opened the dilemmas in Lisbon. A path began that now has its epilogue: the last four families who have not yet had a housing solution will live in urban houses.
Confirmation arrived in the mail a few days ago and was announced to the PUBLIC this week at a meeting between the Housing Councilor and three of the affected residents, the very same people who became spokespersons for the building and were nicknamed “Gauls”. Carla Pinheiro, Alessandra Esposito and Rosário Conceição as well as Maria Helena Pinheiro have received a new address for situations in which an eviction is imminent through the Habitar o Centro Histórico competition launched by the municipality.
The moment tastes like victory. “Justice has been done. That was more than fair for what we went through, ”says Carla Pinheiro. When they knocked on the chamber door for the first time four years ago, she declared that she was powerless to intervene. After all, he was a private landlord who didn’t want to renew his tenants’ contracts – it was his legal right. This starting position would change, however, when the housing councilor Paula Marques decided to interfere personally in the case.
The council and the landlord reached an agreement, the tenants signed new contracts for five years. However, the rental law was changed and almost all of the families in the building started protecting their rental contracts since they were over 65 years old. Four left. They applied to live in the historic center, but they were turned down. An essential prerequisite for this competition is that the applicants have received a notice of eviction or notice of termination. Due to the agreement between the landlord and the local council, they did not have.
“Because of the Chamber’s action, they couldn’t apply,” admits Paula Marques. In view of this, the municipality’s legal department has been asked to provide its opinion. “In view of the fact that the situation at the end of the agreement corresponds to an eviction order, the applications became valid,” summarized the city councilor.
And so these residents are now counting the days to say goodbye to this building. Rosario’s daughter wants to celebrate her 16th birthday in the new house in August. “If the pandemic leaves us, even if we are not here, we have come here in Santo António to celebrate the victory,” announced the mother.
Now that the ground has stopped shaking, to use Carla’s expression, the time has come to rock too. Rosário Conceição still finds it difficult to believe that “three ping-pong cats” managed to convince the Chamber to support them, to be heard in parliament on the basic law on housing and a mandatory stopping point for all leftists To become political candidacies: From PS to BE there was no one who missed the point there.
“We had the opportunity to see that our situation was not unique,” says Alessandra Esposito. “What helps is a clean, honest, and sincere fight. We don’t have to go outside the law for things to work, ”comments Rosário.
Carla Pinheiro is in no mood to end the fight. “Now we have the mistake, we will not stop. The rental law has to be changed further. “Rosário remarks:” We no longer know how to talk about anything else. Before that we talked about the soap opera, about a film, about the children. Now everything will be given for housing construction, everything will be given for politics. “