Housing: Architects ask minister for clarification and national council meeting

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The Order sees with “good eyes” some of the announced measures, but says that “fundamental doubts” remain about the feasibility and coherence of other measures

The Order of Architects (OA) will request an urgent audience with the Minister of Housing, after the presentation of a package of measures for the sector, as well as calling for the convening of the National Housing Council.

“The Order of Architects will request an urgent audience with the Minister of Housing to discuss the package of measures presented yesterday [Thursday] and will also call for the convening of the National Housing Council,” he said in a statement.

The architects stressed that the housing problem is “complex and serious” and that they are aware of the “pressure imposed” by the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), as well as the execution of these funds in a “time window that is limited”.

In this sense, the order defended the importance of the package to respond to the housing crisis in Portugal being discussed.

Although it sees some of the announced measures with “good eyes”, OA wants them to be presented in more detail.

“Naturally, increasing the number of available houses in the rental market is positive, but it is important to understand which houses they are and where they are located,” he pointed out.

For this Order, the mobilization of state-owned land and buildings for affordable rental projects is also positive, as are measures to strengthen landlords’ confidence.

However, as he argued, these decisions “require care” in order to have the desired effect.

The order also noted that “fundamental doubts” remain about the feasibility of some measures and their coherence.

“Architects welcome accountability, but as qualified technicians and regulated professionals, they demand it responsibly. And, for such, it is necessary that the State does its part and that this is not, once again, a resignation of the State from its obligations. Resignation that we signaled when the new design-build regime was approved”, he added.

The OA also criticized the lack of reference values for the work of designers, the lack of regulation on professional liability insurance, the bureaucratization and the limitation of the autonomy of professional associations.

“Architects, like the Portuguese, are unfortunately used to working in minimum conditions, but we cannot work in minimum conditions with maximum responsibility, which is not ours, but the State’s, without having the conditions to exercise it responsibly. OA is waiting for the diploma to be put out for consultation in order to contribute as a partner in the solution and calls for the National Housing Council to meet”, he concluded.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister presented a package of measures, estimated at 900 million euros, to respond to the housing crisis in Portugal with five axes: increase the supply of properties used for housing purposes, simplify licensing processes, increase the number of homes on the rental market, combat speculation, and protect families.

The More Housing program was approved by the Council of Ministers and will be under public discussion for a month. The proposals will return to the Council of Ministers for final approval on March 16, and then some measures will still have to go through the Parliament.

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