Catholic Church relief, development and social service organisation Caritas Portugal presented a study in which it expressed great concern about the obstacles that prevent the weakest sectors in society from accessing basic services such as education, medical care, employment and housing.

In a study presented March 3 in Lisbon, the Portuguese Caritas made particular mention of the fact that housing prices have reached exorbitant levels, in both the capital and in Porto and in both the rental and owner-occupany sectors.

“The housing problem is very serious”, said Filipa Abecasis, editor of the local Caritas publication that is part of the European project “Caritas Cares”.

Only one in five Portuguese people can afford to buy a home

The study was carried out in 16 countries of the European Union, including Portugal.

The panorama sketched out by Caritas makes for difficult and concerning reading, so the document contains some suggestions for local authorities.

Starting with “decent wages, new jobs and guarantees for the unemployed”.

Caritas Portugal also called on authorities to “invest in publc housing with the possibility of purchase or rent even for the poorest”.

In addition, the study reveals that only one in five people in Portugal can afford to buy their own home.

Two years ago, Caritas published “Housing today in Portugal”, a similar study that already warned of the possible consequences of the recession, and of the sharp increase in tourist demand driving prices higher especially in the historic centres of Lisbon and Porto.

Only firm political will can solve the problem

Among the solutions proposed by Caritas is to contain the emergence of housing in communal settlements and the launch of a basic law on housing.

“It is clear that only firm political will can solve the problem”, said Eugenio Fonseca, President of Caritas Portugal.

“It is essential that the person is always at the center of decisions”, the Caritas representative added, lamenting that for the moment “no government has wanted to talk with us about the proposals we have presented”.

The report presented yesterday comes ahead of the Portuguese National Caritas Week, which will take place from March 8 to 15.

On March 10 the First Sociopolitical Intervention Notebook will be presented, with the reflection of the Caritas Social Observation Unit.

(With information from Vatican News)

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.