Portugal Unites in Mass Protest for Housing Rights and Climate Justice
Portugal witnessed a significant demonstration advocating for housing rights and climate justice. Hundreds of citizens gathered in Lisbon and 23 other locations across the nation, echoing their disapproval of the ‘Mais Habitação’ programme and expressing solidarity with their fellow countrymen. The protest kicked off at the Alameda D. Afonso Henriques, with participants armed with banners, drums, flags, and cardboard houses, symbolizing their demand for affordable housing.
However, not all the protests remained peaceful. In one instance, a group of hooded protesters vandalized the window glasses of a real estate agency and splattered the building with red paint. On a brighter note, in Porto, the Santa Catarina street was filled with at least eight thousand protestors from Praça da Batalha to Rua Fernandes Tomás. The chants reverberating through the streets included ‘Peace, Bread, Health, Housing’, ‘Housing is a right, without it nothing done’, ‘The house is for living, not for speculating’, ‘Millions go to the banks, and we get pennies’, ‘Neither people without a house, nor a house without people’.
Portugal’s housing crisis has been a topic of national concern, with mounting mortgage payments due to inflation and increasing cases of homeowners resorting to sell or surrender their properties to banks as they can no longer afford monthly installments. Many citizens find themselves caught in the rent trap, where landlords demand monthly payments higher than the national minimum wage, coupled with hefty deposits often exceeding three months’ rent.
The Dire State of Housing Affordability
The lack of a central government housing policy for nearly a decade and the popularity of gentrification have allowed the housing crisis to amplify. Younger citizens find it nearly impossible to secure their own homes, regardless of their financial stability. The situation is so dire that even those with stable income find the prospect of buying property an impossible dream.
The government and landlords have been the primary targets of blame, with protestors expressing their dissatisfaction with the disparity between the government’s measures and the reality of the housing crisis.
The Future of Housing in Portugal
The nationwide protests highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive solution to Portugal’s housing crisis. The government’s current measures have proven inadequate, leaving a significant portion of the population struggling with housing affordability. As the protests have shown, the citizens of Portugal are ready to take to the streets until a viable solution is implemented, emphasizing that housing is a right, not a privilege.
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