Transforming the housing system: austerity and property taxation during the “Greek crisis”

Authors: Philipp Katsinas*, London School of Economics
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Austerity, Taxation, Dispossession, Greece
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Capitol Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Having been constructed as one of the epicentres and main culprits of the 2008 crisis, the Greek state was subjected to three economic adjustment programmes, which led to permanent austerity, aggravating socio-economic inequalities and increasing private indebtedness both towards the state (inter alia, through the introduction of a new property tax) and financial institutions (through the inability to pay their mortgages). As the Greek housing system is characterised by high rates of owner-occupation, the absence of social housing, and the social diffusion of property ownership, the conditions for widespread housing dispossession have been created. Foreclosures and auctions were largely prevented until recently due to the legal framework and citizen activism, yet, the protection of primary residences from foreclosure has been gradually overturned. As a result, and given the mass availability of devalued assets, institutional investors are increasingly acquiring repossessed properties. Focusing on the case study of Thessaloniki, this paper analyses the interaction between state fiscal policies and financial actors in the (re)commodification, concentration and financialisation of housing and its role in the restructuring of private property relations in the context of Greece.

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