The Right to Housing in COVID-19 Lockdown Times

Mona Harb contributed to a webinar titled "The Right to Housing in COVID-19 Lockdown Times," organized by ISA RC47 Research Committee on Social Classes and Social Movements, and organized by Simone Tulumello and Guya Accornero from the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon. Academics and experts from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Lebanon, and the United States provided an overview of the lockdown measures adopted by each of their governments, relating them to homelessness and social movements. Speakers also discussed lockdown measure’s impacts on people in the context of housing inequalities across the globe’s urban centers and peripheries.

Some of the speakers discussed how in cities that have undergone touristic gentrification, hotels and luxury touristic facilities are now empty and abandoned, while many people find themselves on the streets with no form of decent or safe shelter. Others discussed how social movements have gained momentum during the crisis. All agreed that governments need to be much more supportive of the less privileged and marginalized communities, who have lost their homes or their source of income. Harb explained how people in Lebanon are living a “twin-crisis,” a nationwide economic and political crisis that has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also gave an overview of urban activism over the past decade. Her comments focused on the shortfalls of the lockdown measures in Lebanon where many are living in precarious and crowded conditions, without access to running water, reminding the audience of the thousands of refugees residing across the country’s cities and towns. Harb noted that: “nobody asked within all this who is able to stay home, who are the people who are privileged enough to stay home and take care of themselves as the regulations dictate”, highlighting how these people are made invisible and, worse, stigmatized and harassed. Watch the full video here.