'Mais Habitação' (More Housing)
'Mais Habitação' (More Housing): was it all just a case of moving the deckchairs as the 'absolute majority' takes on yet more water? Photo: João Bica

Government’s housing blueprint “without wings to fly”

Criticism from those with even no axes to grind amplifies

The uproar unleashed by the government’s ‘Mais Habitação’ (More Housing) proposals comes from across the board – not simply from sectors and businesses with their own particular axes to grind.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã publishes a couple of opinion pieces from journalist directors of the paper today – neither of them the least bit hopeful that the plan can work.

Indeed, one of the articles, from executive director Paulo João Santos, runs with the title “no wings to fly”, and explains: “The plan to resolve the lack of houses to rent was drawn up without foundations. Any engineer or building foreman knows that to construct anything one needs to study the ground, and see if it is possible. It is a given that one cannot start with the roof. But the government seems to think this is the way forwards. There is no need to ‘open the melon to conclude that this one isn’t a good one. A large part of what is laid out won’t leave the drawing board. It is simply unworkable.

“The greatest failing of the plan is the fact that it has been elaborated with no previous study. How many houses are there in the rental sector? Where are they? What are the necessities? Who owns them? How long will (State) support of families and benefits to landlords last? When will these new measures begin? The list of questions is extensive, we could include twice or three times this number. What is impossible to understand is how can anyone move forwards with a project without having a single answer. However noble the objectives may be – and no one questions the need for intervention in the rental sector – a large part of this plan is condemned to failure. And whose peregrine idea was it for the State to occupy vacant properties? Was it on some forgotten piece of paper in the drawer of the desk of (outgoing Housing and Infrastructures minister) Pedro Nuno Santos, or did it come out of the head of the new minister?” (already highlighted as being the youngest minister in the history of Portuguese democracy, with no experience in the business world)?

All in all, considering the outcry –  not to mention the ‘fury’ of minority parties in parliament – the first Socialist attempt to fix Portugal’s undeniable housing crisis looks like it may be headed for an almost total rewrite.

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