On October 1, 2022, the neighborhood of Segundo Torrão witnessed the...READ ON
On October 1, 2022, the neighborhood of Segundo Torrão witnessed the beginning of a profound transformation. The lives of 66 families, residing above the rainwater ditch, were completely altered. The sudden roar of the machines set the stage for the demolition of homes that, over generations, had been both a home and a witness to daily life.
Relocation Schedule Map of 2º Torrão - This map represents a new...READ ON
Relocation Schedule Map of 2º Torrão - This map represents a new numbering system for the neighborhood’s residences, indicating the number of each house to be demolished. Even the Almada Municipality's new numbering system caused some confusion among the authorities. This change in door numbering has disrupted the entire process, affecting both housing allocation and case identification.
The Rainwater Drainage Ditch.
Almada's 2º Torrão neighborhood map, The Rainwater Drainage...READ ON
Almada's 2º Torrão neighborhood map, The Rainwater Drainage Ditch is marked in blue, and the demolished section of the neighborhood is marked in yellow.
October 2, 2022 - Before, during, and after each demolition, all materials,...READ ON
October 2, 2022 - Before, during, and after each demolition, all materials, from windows to doors, are repurposed by the residents. Some are for sale; others are for building a new home.
October 2, 2022 - Portrait of Dona Maria, mother of Vasquinho.
October 4, 2022 - With all the pressure to evacuate their homes, many people...READ ON
October 4, 2022 - With all the pressure to evacuate their homes, many people had to leave with only the essentials.
There were a few tense times in the neighborhood, but the communication...READ ON
There were a few tense times in the neighborhood, but the communication between residents and police always resulted in a constructive settlement.
Every time the pressure from the authorities increased the tension, the local...READ ON
Every time the pressure from the authorities increased the tension, the local "guardians" banded together to keep people from being evicted from their homes at that crucial time.
January 20, 2023 - Throughout this process, I followed several families, and...READ ON
January 20, 2023 - Throughout this process, I followed several families, and the Feliciana family is a remarkable example. Despite the constant pressure to leave their homes during a legal action, this family remained determined to fight for a dignified home. They always kept a smile on their faces, praying to God for everything to go well.
The roof, windows, and all salvageable materials are repurposed for reuse by the residents.
The workers during the demolitions frequently showed signs of agony in what...READ ON
The workers during the demolitions frequently showed signs of agony in what they were doing, which they had taken on as just another job.
Whenever one of the houses was demolished, the water and electricity...READ ON
Whenever one of the houses was demolished, the water and electricity companies would cut off the supply, often with no idea which house was connected to the grid. As a result, many residents who remained in the area were without water or power for several hours.
Throughout this process, Vasco was my partner, acting as a 'fixer,'...READ ON
Throughout this process, Vasco was my partner, acting as a 'fixer,' so to speak. It was Vasco who introduced me to all the shortcuts and many residents.
October 3, 2022 - Grandmother is one of the oldest residents in the 2nd...READ ON
October 3, 2022 - Grandmother is one of the oldest residents in the 2nd Torrão, Vasco's grandmother, a highly respected woman in the neighborhood. The house she lived in was one of the last to be demolished. Before its demolition, the house was known as 'Grandmother's House'.
October 6, 2022 - Mrs. Helena is a venerable woman who has been through a lot...READ ON
October 6, 2022 - Mrs. Helena is a venerable woman who has been through a lot during this entire process. A woman of strong faith who was certain that God would guide her in the right direction. Today, after much struggle, she has finally secured a new home.
Mrs. Helena's daughter, they live together despite existing health issues...READ ON
Mrs. Helena's daughter, they live together despite existing health issues and had to go through this entire process, often complicating the medical treatments she must undergo at the hospital.
Lunch at Datche's house. She belongs to one of the families who stayed in...READ ON
Lunch at Datche's house. She belongs to one of the families who stayed in the neighborhood, waiting for a permanent housing solution.
October 21, 2022 - Abandoned house during the demolitions.
October 6, 2022 - Without hesitation, the demolitions begin at...READ ON
October 6, 2022 - Without hesitation, the demolitions begin at Grandmother's house. People are still on the roof of that house, trying to salvage as many materials as possible for other constructions. At this moment, Vasco's father attempts to order the machine to stop.
October 6, 2022 - The demolition of Grandmother's house, one of the most...READ ON
October 6, 2022 - The demolition of Grandmother's house, one of the most respected homes in the neighborhood, continues, and once again, the workers assist the residents in salvaging some of the materials from the house.
Demolition of Grandmother's House.
October 6, 2022 - A sense of sadness hangs in the air as residents and...READ ON
October 6, 2022 - A sense of sadness hangs in the air as residents and Grandmother's family watch the demolition of a beloved home for many years.
Workers help residents save some of the materials from the house.
Messages left by some residents before the house was demolished.
A resident's perspective of the house. So far, the only houses demolished...READ ON
A resident's perspective of the house. So far, the only houses demolished have been those located over the stormwater ditch.
October 21, 2022 - The debris was left for weeks, resulting in the emergence...READ ON
October 21, 2022 - The debris was left for weeks, resulting in the emergence of pests such as rats and cockroaches. Meanwhile, due to the lack of safety limitations, children ended up playing on the rubble.
November 3, 2022 - Residents discuss the unclear approach of the Municipality...READ ON
November 3, 2022 - Residents discuss the unclear approach of the Municipality of Almada during the rehousing process.
A non-resident prepares to collect as much iron as possible from the debris to sell.
The debris was left for weeks on end, leading to the emergence of pests such...READ ON
The debris was left for weeks on end, leading to the emergence of pests such as rats and cockroaches. At the same time, children ended up playing on the rubble due to the lack of safety boundaries. The removal of asbestos took a long time, potentially resulting in its contamination of the Tagus River.
A peaceful day in 2nd Torrão.
January 25, 2023 - Datche was pregnant throughout this entire process,...READ ON
January 25, 2023 - Datche was pregnant throughout this entire process, resulting in several peaks of anxiety and significant stress during her pregnancy. She ended up giving birth a month earlier than expected. Today, she has a healthy child, and Datche's family is another example of a resilient and determined family.
January 20, 2023 - He is known as "DOG," and he is an example of...READ ON
January 20, 2023 - He is known as "DOG," and he is an example of resilience, inspiring many people not to give in to pressure and supporting in the fight for the right to a dignified home. He became a beacon of light in this community. His home was the last to be demolished, and he kept firm throughout the process. He is also a big example of a human being.
March 16, 2023 - Drone image over the 2nd Torrão neighborhood, a few...READ ON
March 16, 2023 - Drone image over the 2nd Torrão neighborhood, a few months after the demolitions.
A pivotal moment in the 2nd Torrão neighborhood of Almada left an indelible mark on the lives of its residents, both past and present. This is the story of an event that unfolded a year ago, a narrative of solidarity and resilience in the face of unexpected challenges.
The Aftermath of the 2nd Torrão
In the 1970s, the 2nd Torrão Neighborhood began as a haven for fishermen who occupied private land and constructed sheds to store their fishing gear. Over time, it evolved into an attractive destination for Lisbon residents seeking vacation homes, with many eventually making it their permanent residence.
The neighborhood embraces African immigrants from former Portuguese colonies as well as residents and vacationers from the capital. With over half a century of history, it boasts a diverse population of over a thousand inhabitants.
The lives of 66 families living above the rainwater ditch took a dramatic turn. Machines suddenly descended upon the neighborhood, initiating the demolition of homes that had served as residences for generations. The once-unified community was thrust into a world of uncertainty and challenges. The first demolitions began on October 1, 2022, and residents were pressured to leave their homes without definitive accommodations. Documents were signed while houses were being demolished, in a noisy, exhausting environment, with no time to ponder and analyze the proposed offer. Residents who filed four requests for Emergency Precautionary Measures were excluded from the relocation processes. There is still no definitive response for all households.
According to Amnesty International, the Almada City Council claimed the need for demolitions and relocations due to "the deterioration of the rainwater drainage ditch, located under several informal buildings in the neighborhood, which threatened to collapse, putting the lives of residents at risk."
The safety of residents is a legitimate concern, and as the process progressed, controversy and mistrust grew in the community. The demolitions had a significant influence on society, which is apparent through their societal repercussions.
Some residents had to take precautionary measures to prevent their homes from being demolished until a guarantee of permanent housing was established. When they were moved to housing far from their previous residences in the 2nd Torrão, this caused significant disruption to their lives. The children were separated from their schools and had to adapt to new school environments. On the other hand, adults faced the challenge of finding employment, as geographical barriers posed difficulties in accessing their previous professional activities. Due to involuntary relocation, these residents faced unforeseen and disruptive challenges in their daily lives, resulting in considerable instability.
One year after the demolitions, the enduring emotional and physical scars underscore the pressing need for increased transparency, better oversight, and enhanced community security. These developments raise crucial questions about the role of institutions in safeguarding these communities' well-being.
Housing crisis in Portugal.
As demolitions of neighborhoods, evictions by landlords, and relocations continue to occur in several neighborhoods across Portugal, the country is facing a growing housing crisis. When adopting drastic measures, the state must ensure that it offers dignified alternatives to its citizens, as housing is a fundamental right.
Portugal's housing crisis is a complex problem that affects several aspects of society. Due to the rising cost of living and rising house prices, many families are unable to purchase or rent suitable housing, resulting in increasing housing precarity. The well-being of citizens is at risk, as is the country's social cohesion and stability.
Authorities must develop housing policies that meet the needs of the population and ensure universal access to decent housing. Finding long-term solutions to this crisis that is becoming more urgent in Portugal is crucial.