Housing and Building Section
Proposals for the Basic Housing Law
The following proposals were presented on 24 January 2018 to the Working Group on Housing, Urban Rehabilitation and Urban Policies of the Portuguese National Parliament, which at the time was drafting a general law proposal on housing. In Portugal, housing is a constitutional right since 1976, yet until now no general law framing public housing policies has been approved. The law was open for public consultation from 15 May to 30 July. More information about this law proposal (in Portuguese) can be found here.
- Technical Support Unit. Each Municipality should be endowed with a Technical Support Unit with the aim of surveying the housing needs of the population, regarding both access to housing and the identification of people needing improved housing conditions in their residencies. Additionally, and especially in rural areas, this Technical Support Unit should have a mobile service to serve isolated or less mobile populations. Another function of this service would be to identify abandoned or vacant homes or other kinds of property and their owners.
- The creation of housing projects at a controlled and affordable cost, either by new construction or rehabilitation, managed by municipalities and/or housing cooperatives, and used through the attribution of right of use, in order to avoid speculative uses of these projects. This way, in case inhabitants want to move out of their house, they can only recover the value they have invested in building or rehabilitation, but not generate profit out of the sale.
- The creation of financing mechanisms (namely through micro-credit systems) to allow inhabitants to acquire building materials and labor for the construction or rehabilitation of houses, land or abandoned buildings, in order to make housing accessible for people in precarious economic conditions or without access to the traditional credit system.
- In the case of projects mentioned in point 2, fiscal possibility to acquire building materials at the minimum VAT rate of 6%, as happens with contracting labor, as well as a reduction or exemption of municipal taxes.
- Regulation of self-building, supported and supervised by technical teams.
- The creation of municipal allotments at non-speculative prices.
- Public housing stock for people in transition. Make temporary housing available for people in transition, especially migration (urban – rural, emigrants pretending to return to the country, or others), to facilitate these processes while long-term solutions are sought.
- Public housing stock for the elderly with economic difficulties in maintaining their residency, or when these do not have the accessibility conditions needed for the health of their inhabitants.
- Support systems for people with reduced mobility, through the provision of specialized technical support and access to financing or public funds to adapt their homes.
- The acquisition of houses and land at fixed costs by municipality, especially in the case of abandoned property, according to the estimated value with regard to typology, materials and conservation state. These properties can be offered at non-speculative price to be used in the projects mentioned in points 2, 7 and 8.
- The regulation of expropriation mechanisms for depreciated or ruined housing, especially when these threaten public safety or the safety of other buildings, or when they constitute a health hazard.
- To promote ecological methods of building, in terms of the materials used, preferring locally produced materials; of energy efficiency; of reducing CO2 emissions and water pollution; of promoting healthy space to live; as well as any other ecological questions that may arise.
- The creation of a system of volunteering or b>internships within these projects involving students of technical and higher education, namely in those areas linked to construction (architecture, civil engineering, plumbing, electricity, etc.), as well as the social sciences.
- The stimulation, through fiscal benefits, of companies collaborating in these projects, either by providing professional labor or volunteers or through financial support.
- Collaboration with the national Social Security System and social institutions to identify people with housing needs and coordinate information among them through the Technical Support Unit.