Shahrokh Tavakoli

July 27, 2020

Iran’s failing economy and the unprecedented fall of its national currency has further aggravated the living conditions of most Iranians.

According to Hesam Oghbaie, the Vice President of the Real Estate Advisors Union, Tehran residents can no longer afford rent due to the country’s 30% inflation.

Speaking to state-run media, Oghbaie said that many tenants who lived in northern Tehran in affluent neighborhoods have relocated to the center of Tehran. Those who lived in the middle of Tehran, relocated to poorer neighborhoods in southern Tehran.  Residents of southern Tehran have now moved to the outskirts of the capital, most likely in slums.  

According to Khabar Online website, around 15-20% of the population of tenets were forced to relocate. State-run media also reported that families were now living two to a house to lessen the burden of rent.

However, Oghbaie denied this report because according to Islam, “those who are not mahram with each other cannot live under one roof.” His reaction angered many people who accused him of being concerned with Sharia more than the poverty that is crushing Iranians under its weight.

The cost of almost everything in Iran, from rent and home prices, to chicken, eggs, and home appliances has greatly increased. Iranians say that products that have not increased in price have lost their quality.

state-run daily said that even the price of “rooftop sleeping” in Tehran’s Region 22 has doubled since last year, increasing from 25,000 tomans to 50,000 a night. Sleeping on rooftops, near cemeteries, and inside stores has become more widespread especially among Iranian workers who can barely afford food let alone pay rent.  

Rooftop sleeping in Tehran. Image from state-run Media.

In 2017, the former Minister of Roads and Urban Development said that 19 million people in Iran were suffering from poor living accommodations. At the time, he said that this figure was gathered in 2014. Although new figures have not officially been announced by regime officials, it is safe to guess that in light of the spread of poverty and current inflation, this figure has significantly increased.

Mohammadreza Mahboubfar, a member of Iran’s Association of Spatial Planning, recently told Iranian media that 38 million Iranians lived on the outskirts of cities and from these, 7.6 million lived near cemeteries. That is almost half of Iran’s population. These numbers are not official figures and have been called an exaggeration by other experts.    

Naser Zakeri, a housing researcher told Shargh Daily that the fact that the regime does not provide new figures means that they do not care about poor housing and are not committed to finding a solution.

And regime officials and state-run media alike warn that these economic grievances will soon turn into violent angry riots against the regime.

A former lawmaker told Arman Daily today that “high prices would hurt Iran’s political, social and economic security”.

“This will naturally have a psychological effect on people and families,” Jalal Jalalizadeh added.

“If the government fails to provide financial support, it will face dissatisfaction and protest. In this case, if the government and parliament fail to meet the people’s demands, there will be a kind of confusion and chaos, which may even lead to bigger problems and great losses,” he warned.

Shahrokh Tavakoli, educated in the US, currently residing in Europe, Director of @IranNW, providing news and analysis from inside Iran & political activist.

Twitter: @tavakoli_sh