Municipalities do not currently have financial problems in building housing, but they do have difficulties in executing and meeting deadlines, according to the president of the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP), Luísa Salgueiro.
“It’s not financial constraints that are limiting us at the moment, because the construction and renovation of housing is financed. What we have trouble with is meeting deadlines,” she told Lusa.
Anticipating the XXVI ANMP Congress, which will take place on the 30th in Seixal, in the district of Setúbal, the mayor said that the “big problem” for these municipalities is the deadlines, because until the construction phase is reached, the “process is very lengthy”.
“Why doesn’t the country see the houses? There are so many houses planned, but they don’t appear because we are in a very lengthy process of identifying the land, releasing the land, contracting the project, adapting the project to the rules, launching contracts and choosing a contractor,” he explained.
Although it is a complex process, the socialist believes that within a short time the country will start to see the planned homes being built and made available.
Luísa Salgueiro, who is also the leader of the Matosinhos City Council, in the district of Porto, said that the municipalities are making an “enormous effort” in terms of housing because they have “absolutely crucial” funds to overcome the current constraints in this area.
According to the mayor, the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) and the local housing strategies “are in full swing”, following the commitment made to the country: “We are accelerating a lot in terms of building housing.”
That’s why, he stressed, the main concern of the municipalities at the moment is to implement and, along with the government, the mayors are working with the means at their disposal “so that the country can overcome this great difficulty of guaranteeing a decent home for everyone”.
However, the increase in interest rates, the difficulties families have in paying, the growing number of evictions and the increase in the price of the square meter, especially in big cities, make the mission difficult.
These factors aggravating housing problems, he stressed, depend neither on the municipalities nor on the government.
For this reason, Luísa Salgueiro said that nobody knows if the Mais Habitação package, launched by the executive and made possible in parliament by the Socialist majority, will be able to help resolve the situation: “That’s the goal, but whether or not it will solve the problem we’ll have to wait and see.”
Mais Habitação (More Housing), he recalled, had been the subject of a great deal of work between the ANMP and the government and, despite positive developments in the negotiations, there are still points on which the local councils do not fully agree, such as the licensing of local accommodation and the tax regime in urban rehabilitation areas.
Luísa Salgueiro stressed that the program – much criticized by several mayors, including the presidents of Lisbon and Porto, the social democrat Carlos Moedas and the independent Rui Moreira – is not yet a closed issue, since its regulation will “now be a decisive phase”.
The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has vetoed the decree that brought together the main changes to housing legislation – with changes to rents, licensing and local accommodation – approved in parliament in July by the PS, which has already announced that it will confirm it.
The law will be discussed again in Parliament on Thursday.