With inflation currently so high, everyone is feeling the pinch. Yet finding affordable housing in Portugal has become a major issue.

Data tells us that the cost of renting in Lisbon, the capital city, has risen by 65% since 2015, while housing prices have soared by 137%. Lisbon sees the highest rental prices, with a one-bedroom flat costing around 1,350 euros.

There’s no avoiding the reality that this is a social emergency any longer. While the government has been making moves in recent months to address this problem, it has not been enough to stem the tide of public unrest over the issues currently plaguing Portugal’s native residents.

Protesting Housing Prices

With huge swathes of the country struggling to meet the costs of accommodation, the weekend saw thousands of denizens marching in a demonstration geared towards ensuring their right to accessible and fair housing. Also on the protest agenda was a call for an end to property speculations in Porto, a northwestern city in Portugal.

It’s unsurprising so much of the population have been driven to protest. Homelessness is no longer confined to those unable to find work; there are residents in Portugal in work who are still unable to afford anywhere to live, due to the disparity between wages and housing prices. And this is not confined to those on the lowest wages in the country. Even those on higher-than-average salaries are unable to make rent.

Elsewhere, native residents have been evicted from their homes so they can be transformed into short-term accommodation, like Airbnb, for visiting tourists.

According to CIA Landlords, the situation in the city is so bad that Lisbon ranks as the third-least viable city to live in worldwide. This problem has been greatly exacerbated by Portugal’s rate of inflation, which is currently at 8.2%.

Policies Shifting In Favour Of Portuguese Natives

While protesters are unhappy with the state of the housing market, the government aren’t oblivious to the issues currently faced by their residents. Last month saw the government announce a housing package designed to begin redressing the balance. This started with, among other things, the announcement that they would be ending the coveted Golden Visa scheme, while also banning new licenses for Airbnb properties. Subsidised food costs have also been announced, but there’s concern that this won’t be enough to help those who need it.

The argument for attracting so much foreign investment in Portugal has always been that it’s necessary for the promotion of employment and growth. The issue is that growth for the sake of it isn’t necessarily in the best interests of the country, or her people.

Today, Portugal has two main economic sectors: tourism and real estate. And while both are booming, neither lends themselves to the creation of stable jobs and income for residents.

The result is a society increasingly polarised by inequality.

Putting an end to the Golden Visa, while banning the licensing of any further Airbnbs and short-term rentals is a start, but it’s unclear yet when these measures - worth around €900m - will fully come into effect. In the meantime, the government is looking into regulating rent increases, while offering tax incentives to landlords converting tourist properties into housing available to locals to rent.

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