“Obviously this plan won’t work…”
Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas has said the city won’t be adhering to the government’s plan for the ‘coercive leasing’ of vacant habitable apartments in areas of high density.
Indeed, the plan has changed so markedly from the initial ‘blanket announcement’ on February 16, that it has become very much as President Marcelo described it: “a poster law” – something put up more for the purposes of propaganda than for fixing anything.
“Obviously it won’t work”, Moedas told journalists on the sidelines of a municipal event yesterday afternoon. “We all know that the State won’t succeed” with its housing blueprint, not least because the proposals have completely ignored the wealth of vacant properties owned by the State itself.
In Moedas’ mindset, the first properties to be used to help meet housing needs are these – and to this end, the municipality has already renovated 400 properties of its 2,000 empty properties, while upgrading existing homes and constructing 1,000 more.
This week, he said, more than 1,000 Lisbon residents will be receiving keys to ‘upgraded’ homes, while €42 million has been invested in municipal housing complexes, with another €85 million due to be spent.
This is how the mayor sees Lisbon dealing with its housing crisis. “Not with ideological or coercive measures…”
The PSD coalition leader who struggles without a working majority on the city council stressed his heart was with yesterday’s demonstrations for the right to housing. And he blamed the government for not having renovated properties in State ownership.
“Public policy is made with public assets, so this public policy should be made by mayors with public assets. When we still have so many empty properties that are ours, how can we ask private people to be forced to rent their houses? It doesn’t make any sense, let’s do it ourselves first, to set an example”.
And in spite of his heartfelt support for yesterday’s demonstrators, Carlos Moedas stressed that demonising landlords – and those running Alojamento Local (short-term holiday lets) – is misguided. The two issues are not mutually exclusive.
AL owners are “people like us, who have a small business, a small apartment, that they decide to rent out. They are not property funds, they are not evil capitalists. They are people who have that salary and need that money…” he said.
Carlos Moedas is just one of numerous political figures who have slated the government’s measures to ‘fix the housing crisis’. From left to right, no party has a charitable thing to say about the plans, with left wingers insisting the moment has come to set ‘rent ceilings’, so that tenants are better protected.