Housing, land and property in Beirut, in the light of the port blast

Published 30. Sep 2021
The report seeks to take stock of the housing, land and property framework and the multiple forms in which housing vulnerability is playing out in the context of the repair and recovery phase of Beirut in the aftermath of the port blast.

The methodology adopted for this study is qualitative and consists of laying out housing issues and threats in the context of the areas affected by the blast to unravel the full spectrum of housing, land and property challenges in Beirut.

Based on a mapping of these challenges, the research strategy relied on an in-depth analysis of thirty case studies. Interviews were also conducted with residents, property owners and key informants.

During the analysis phase, the cases were examined in relation to their intersection with the legal framework, housing-related policies, and the urban and building regulations in place. Six forms of major shelter vulnerability that characterize dwellers in blast-affected areas were investigated; (a) Poor housing conditions, (b) Tenure vulnerability, (c) Neighbourhood threats, (d) Affordability issues, (e) Blast specific factors, and (f) Individual vulnerability.

The findings were consolidated and synthesized to inform the report's recommendations to improve housing conditions for vulnerable populations in Beirut through three levels: national policymaking, area-specific, and household level interventions.

Main findings:

  • The report identifies three critical contextual factors for consideration in Beirut's post-blast recovery related to housing, land, and property. These factors are: (i) a weak and malfunctioning institutional setup, (ii) a poor regulatory framework, and (iii) high public reliance on foreign aid and donor assistance
  • Deficiencies in the organization of the housing sector were extended to the regulatory framework of the post-blast recovery
  • Many of the households living in the neighbourhoods affected by the blast suffered already from poor housing conditions.
  • Forms of tenure within the areas affected by the blast play a significant role in increasing housing insecurity and vulnerability for numerous households
  • The blast has generated specific new forms of vulnerability.
  • A high level of informality governs the processes through which the vast majority of vulnerable dwellers access shelter in the areas of the post-blast recovery.
  • The possibilities for a post-blast reconstruction are undermined by heightened vulnerabilityraising costs of services, increasing incidence of eviction due to the inability to pay rent, delays related to repairs and eroded capabilities of public agencies.
  • Addressing the housing challenge in Lebanon is a long process that requires a societal change vis-à-vis the conception of land and property and its translation into an actual enactment of the right to adequate housing.