145 complaints from migrant workers during the months of April, May and June 2020
This map shows the geographical distribution of complaints received on ARM hotline through the social networks within which the association usually operates, which includes families and workers from Arab and foreign refugee or migrant communities, covering in particular and on a large-scale Beirut city and its suburbs. This was reflected in the geographical scope of the 145 cases, most of which were concentrated within the Beirut administrative region and its suburbs. Taking this into consideration, conclusions can be drawn about the geographical distribution of the sample of reported cases, regarding the situation of the workers and migrants’ housing in the city.
The map provides a reading about the areas where affordable housing is available for workers and migrants according to 3 main categories:
First, informal areas with the largest percentage of those reporting threats of eviction (39%). In Lebanon, any solutions to housing problems, which concern the groups most in need of state support, have been dissolved bit by bit. The absence of a national policy of affordable land has contributed to widespread informal areas in all Lebanese cities. Accordingly, today, more than 50% of the Lebanese population resides in informal areas, including the different categories of migrant workers.
Second, the neighborhoods located within municipal Beirut, where about 20% of the reported cases. While Beirut's inner neighborhoods have been subjected to fierce real estate speculation over the past decades, and buildings have been demolished and a large proportion of their residents have been displacedRelated references: Public Works Studio, Ras Beirut: Narratives About Housing in the City, 2018. Mona Fawaz and Abir El Zaatari, Property Tax: No More Vacancy Exemptions, 2020., the old buildings scattered throughout Beirut's neighborhoods still allow for various housing arrangements. In fact, the high vacancy rate in these old buildings (due to evictions or displacements during the war) has led to the phenomenon of dividing apartments into several rooms. In general, homeowners prefer to convert their old properties into rooms that are rented to marginalized social groups, in light of the often-inappropriate housing conditions and the lack of basic services and necessary maintenance work. This remains the homeowners’ preferred option, especially since dividing apartments into rooms allows them to double their profits, even if it is by exploiting a vulnerable segment of people driven by an urgent need to find housing in cities close to the workplace.
Third, the low-income neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, such as Burj Hammoud, Dora, and others, the location of about 17% of the reported cases’ place of residence. These neighborhoods are not subject to real estate speculation; their buildings are difficult to demolish due to their status as historical monuments associated with Armenian refugees or the related masterplans. Consequently, these areas offer a good access to housing with affordable rents.
As for the remaining percentage – about 21% – their place of residence is sporadically dispersed in areas outside the city, where rent is low compared to places closer to economic activity in Beirut.