- Everyone has the right, for himself and his family, to housing of adequate size, in conditions of hygiene and comfort and which preserves personal intimacy and family privacy.
- In order to ensure the right to housing, the State shall be responsible for
a) Program and execute a housing policy that is inserted in general land use plans and supported by urbanization plans that guarantee the existence of an adequate transport and social equipment network;
b) To promote, in collaboration with the autonomous regions and local authorities, the construction of economic and social housing;
c) Stimulate private construction, with subordination to the general interest, and access to owned or rented housing;
d) To encourage and support the initiatives of local communities and populations, with a view to solving their respective housing problems and to foster the creation of housing cooperatives and self-construction.”
Article 65, Housing and Urbanism
Constitution of the Portuguese Republic
Next Saturday, April 1st, members of DiEM25 in Portugal will take to the streets with housing movements and activist groups that, like all over Europe, are demanding concrete solutions to the housing problem and the inability of European citizens to cope with excessive rent and loan increases.
With effort rates over 40%, families are suffocating, with little or nothing left for all the other expenses at the end of the month. Would raising wages be a solution? No doubt, but it does not solve the basic problems we are facing: real estate speculation, which camouflages financial speculation in explosive investment funds, as the 2008 crisis showed, and the excessive concentration of the economy in just one activity: tourism.
This is the basic problem that DiEM25 and MERA25, the political parties of the movement in Germany, Italy and Greece, are confronting. To quote Yanis Varoufakis: “The banking system we take for granted is irreversible. That is the bad news. But we no longer need to depend on any private, rent-seeking, socially destabilizing network of banks, at least not in the way we have so far. The time has come to blow up an irredeemable banking system that gives benefits to owners and shareholders at the expense of the majority.” What does this vision of ending “red loans” and the promiscuity that exists between the banking system and governments mean for housing?
Public and social housing is a key pillar of the policies of the DiEM25 and MERA25 political parties.
In Greece, the political party MeRA25 recently announced the “Odysseus” plan, a counterproposal to the Hercules plan proposed by the Government. Among other measures, it highlights the creation of a Social Housing Agency, which does not lend or sell houses, but provides solid, humane and ecologically built social housing for young people and the most disadvantaged populations, or the creation of a public company with the function of managing loans and freezing them in case people cannot pay them back, allowing people to remain in their homes, not as tenants, but as co-owners, until they can – over time – pay them off.
In Germany,where MERA25 is in the running for election in the Bremen region, the DiEM25 party is advancing similar solutions, putting the focus on creating a new culture of social construction, in which private, profit-oriented investors do not enter. MERA25 proposes the massive expansion of municipal housing stock, to be managed by municipal housing companies, which can be financed by housing bonds or long-term loans, creating affordable, modern and ecologically compatible housing, as well as the transfer of rental housing from the for-profit market to non-profit and community organizations.
In Italy, the newly created MERA25 proposes the creation of a maximum ceiling for rents, proportional to management and maintenance costs, as well as the imposition of progressive taxes on properties that are not on the market and, if necessary, expropriation, also mentioning the pressing need to regulate once and for all short-term rentals for tourist purposes.
These proposals point to a single unequivocal path in housing for European countries, including Portugal: social and public housing as the only way to guarantee homes for all. There are a variety of possible solutions in this area, between social housing, more geared towards meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged populations, including the young, and public housing, which realizes the constitutional right to have access to decent housing, DiEM25’s watchwords are affordability and an end to the financing of public housing, a sector that, like Health or Education, should be one of the main pillars of the realisation of our constitution.
The members of DiEM25 in Portugal have gathered several ideas for reflection on alternative measures to those proposed by the Government, which we expose here. Share your suggestions and comments here
Proposals for Portugal:
- Progressive tax on houses that are not in the rental market;
- Fair taxation of rents and housing capital gains
- Increase of public housing stock through acquisition of properties and not through sub-letting
- Creation of barriers to the sale of municipal property that can be used for housing
- Ceilings for rents well below those currently being proposed, taking into account the area, the size of the houses, and the effort rate of each family
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