Tent protest marks day government announcement expected over crisis in housing

Tent protest marks day government announcement expected over crisis in housing

Protest highlights “prohibitive” cost of rentals; “pornographic” mortgage terms

A symbolic ‘tent protest’ has been mounted today as the government is expected finally to address the crisis in affordable housing.

The 20 or so tents have been set up in front of the Bank of Portugal in Braga, says Lusa highlighting the Catch-22 of the times: rental prices have become “prohibitive”, while mortgage repayment schedules are “pornographic

“At this rate, living in a tent is really going to be the only solution for many Portuguese”, Cândido Almeida of the “Os Mesmos de Sempre a Pagar” movement (loosely translated into ‘the same people always paying…’)

He highlights the situation in Braga where he says it is impossible to find a flat for rent “however small it may be, for less than the national minimum wage”.

“The Government has to take robust measures and steps, to guarantee everyone the right to decent housing“, he said – stressing this is a right “enshrined in the Constitution”.

For Almeida, the government needs to “act with courage” and “present the bill” to those who make “huge profits, such as the banks, property speculators and large economic groups”.

“It is not acceptable that the same people should always pay”, he stressed, meaning the ‘masses’ on Portugal’s habituallylow wage scales (readers may recall that the majority of workers in Portugal are still only taking home the national minimum wage of under €800 per month).

As Lusa explains, this protest is taking place on the same day that the Council of Ministers has an agenda exclusively dedicated to Portugal’s housing issues.

The reason for choosing the Bank of Portugal as the venue has been that the bank is seen by protestors as the correct backdrop to alert to “the pornographic increase in interest rates on mortgage payments”.

In many cases, monthly installments have “almost doubled, leaving many, many people in dire straits”, says Cândido Almeida, explaining yet again why tents in the end may be the only solution.

Anticipation today is that the Council of Ministers will approve a legislative package on housing that will stimulate the rental market, as well as speed up and dynamise the construction of affordable homes.

The details of measures coming are being kept under wraps, with a great deal of speculation, particularly involving ways of making more land available for house construction, offering tax incentives for private construction and for property owners to encourage them to switch from short-term holiday lets to the long-term rental sector to help support young people and everyday workers who these days have very little in the way of solutions.

Source material: Lusa