“The main problem is, without a doubt, housing. We have cases of people completely thrown out on the street, not because they don't pay, but because the owners want the houses. Others, because they cannot pay”, José Ricardo Martins told Lusa agency.
The problem affects both national and foreign citizens in the parish of Almada, where there are already around 60 nationalities.
With the rent for a one-bedroom apartment absorbing a minimum wage, the population directly seeks help from the Parish Council, whether to pay for housing or other associated expenses (water, electricity, gas), but also food and school expenses.
“The main lack that I notice, not only for foreigners, but also for Portuguese people, has to do with the problem that I think is the biggest social plague in the country, with housing and with exaggeratedly high prices, even obscene, in terms of rent”, declared the mayor.
The solution, he recommends, is to build public housing, which takes time. He adds that in the Costa area, a large part of the land is private property or reserve area.
The problem is not exclusive to the parish, but giving the municipality of Almada as an example, Ricardo Martins said that thousands of people are waiting for the opportunity to get a house through a municipal program: “There is a huge number of families in Habit´Almada, which have an impact here on the coast. Registrations waiting at home, perhaps we are talking about 7,000 people”.
The mayor fears that the cases he is responding to in conjunction with the church and other partners may reflect what the year 2023 will be like. “If this escalation in terms of energy and inflation continues, obviously we will have problems similar to those that we had during the pandemic”, he estimated, indicating that 7,162 people were supported during this period, within the scope of the Social Commission created in 2016 with various partner entities.
"Despite having some cushion here, although not as much as necessary, in the increase in salaries... it will not be enough for people to be able to carry out their normal lives, even if they have to give up what is not so essential", he considered.