Carlos Moedas
Carlos Moedas, another figure 'not happy today' following the government's annoucements on how to tackle the housing crisis

Lisbon mayor condemns “State centralism” over housing decisions

Claims local authorities were not consulted

Lisbon’s PSD (social democrat) mayor Carlos Moedas has also come out in condemnation of the Socialist government’s housing announcements yesterday.

On the sidelines of the inauguration of a sports centre in Marvila, he said it is “very serious” that local authorities were not consulted, criticising what he called “the posture of imposition and prohibition.

“This type of measure cannot be like State centralism trying to solve people’s problems. We have to solve them at the level of municipalities, at the level of what cities are today, so the city will be the actor to solve the housing problem, and this resolution of the problem cannot be by imposition or by prohibition or by obligation”, said Moedas.

The “More Housing programme” – now subject to public discussion – involves five lines of action: 

  • increasing the supply of properties used for housing purposes
  • simplifing licensing processes, 
  • increasing the number of houses on the rental market, 
  • combatting speculation 
  • protecting families

As Lusa explains, it has been approved by the Council of Ministers – and following public discussion – will return for final approval on March 16.

Some of the measures will require “passing through parliament”, PM António Costa has conceded.

Reacting to the early evening press conference, Carlos Moedas expressed “great strangeness” over the fact that he had not been consulted.

“Today, housing is one of the biggest national challenges, but it’s a challenge that has to go through measures in the municipalities. The government did not consult or listen to the local authorities – the Lisbon local authority certainly wasn’t heard – and so it is very strange to see this whole package of measures without any consultation of mayors, particularly of the city of Lisbon”, he said, referring to the municipality’s intervention to respond to the housing crisis by building over 1,000 apartments, with plans to help 1,000 families who have difficulty paying the rent through the Municipal Subsidy to Affordable Rent (SMAA).

“We are actually building solutions every day, such as, for example, cooperatives – we are going to launch five cooperatives”, he added, referring again to his perplexity that “measures of this dimension” have ‘imposed and prohibited’ what is the job of mayors.

“We (mayors) cannot allow the management of our territory without consulting us, we think this is very serious,” he said again.

Mr Moedas has already spoken to other mayors who “were not consulted” (…) I don’t even mean consulted, but listened to”, he said, refusing to comment on the actual measures announced last night.

“I am not going to comment because I was not heard, that is, what I know about these measures is what the media knows about the measures. I think that the mayor of Lisbon deserves a little more…”

In Carlos Moedas’ opinion “the way forward for the country cannot be the return to a vision from the 1970s, of a centralised State commanding local authorities, deciding for the local authorities”, with an attitude “of imposition and prohibition”.

The mayor of Lisbon recalled that the municipality is working on changing the Municipal Regulation of Local Accommodation, having banned new AL registrations “in many parts of the city”, as has the municipality of Porto.

“And suddenly there is a national ban… this makes no sense at all,” he said.

Despite being “very sorry” over what he called “disarticulation and lack of dialogue with the government”, the mayor says he will continue to work on the “biggest housing investment programme that Lisbon has ever had”, with €40 million earmarked for municipal districts, including the rehabilitation of vacant houses, and the allocation of 2,000 homes.