The Municipality of Porto carried out the official ceremony of the key handover of the first 14 houses under the affordable housing policy of Porto City Hall, namely via the municipal company Porto Vivo, SRU.
These first 14 dwellings, located in Porto Historic Centre, at Morro da Sé, were assigned by the drawing of lots under the tender carried out by Porto Vivo, SRU. The ceremony, which was held at the Council chambers, was attended by Mayor Rui Moreira and Councillors Pedro Baganha and Ricardo Valente.
In the light of the current economic hardship, which impacts on vulnerable households, the new model for urban rehabilitation is making its way in Porto, under the Executive of Mayor Rui Moreira, as the law that was enacted in 2012 not only liberalizes old rent contracts but also enables the creation of urban rehabilitation companies, the so called "Sociedades de Reabilitação Urbana" (SRU), which were established with the goal of boosting institutionalized cooperation with the private sector.
This is a new start for both the families and the dwellings that were rehabilitated. "These apartments are ready to be occupied starting 1st August", councillor and also Porto Vivo, SRU administrator affirmed, and furthered he was pleased with "this special and unique ceremony".
"This is the first time that the Municipality of Porto hands over keys for affordable housing. And these are not social housing, but a new housing model with municipal support", the councillor for Urbanism, Pedro Baganha enhanced.
Applications for occupancy of these 14 dwellings started in January and the drawing, which was scheduled to happen in April, was held this July due to the ongoing pandemic.
Out of the 350 applications, 58 were admitted for tender, as explained by Pedro Baganha: "We have established criteria that benefit young households and people who are starting a family. We wish to regenerate the city, not only its physical conditions but also its population.
Mayor of Porto briefly intervened and said that he "is aware of the difficulties in finding suitable and affording housing, especially when we are talking of young households who see that they pay check does not match the cost of living in the city centre. It is important that the city regenerates its population. Affordability does not match the income available. But this process is running smoothly and we hope we can bring more houses to the affordable housing market".
Mayor Rui Moreira also wished all new tenants "the best of luck to the families that were contemplated with the 14 dwellings rehabilitated in Morro da Sé".
"I hope you like the place where you are going to live. I am sure you will", Mayor Rui Moreira concluded.
Speaking to journalists, after the ceremony, Rui Moreira established an ambitious goal for the 2022 horizon. "We expect to deliver 250 dwellings by the end of the year, and 500 more next year and another 250 in 2022, which will have a significant impact in a younger population who cannot find houses to match their purchasing power", Mayor Rui Moreira emphasised.
"It is a very special day for Porto City Hall and for one and each of these people. The city expanded from the Morro da Sé, it is an aged territory and we are planting a seed of youth in the middle of the heart of the city", Rui Moreira stressed. "This is a sign of hope and of a new era for a city that needs renewing. In the past two or three years the city no longer loses population, but it has not grown sufficiently yet. We are trying to cover what we call the market gap, which is not having available housing for these people, which they can afford with their salaries", Rui Moreira concluded.
The Municipality estimates to invest over 4.3 million euros till 2022, through the programme "Porto com Sentido", to bring into the rental housing market two types of housing: local housing currently in the market or available housing in the sale or rental market.
The land use planning by the Municipality of Porto foresees the increase in housing availability in the city as one of the priorities. One of the defined goals for the Building and Housing axis entails increasing the supply to attain the demographic recovery purpose, which has already achieved positive results with the increase in the number of inhabitants in the years 2017 and 2018.
Programme "Porto com Sentido"
The programme "Porto com Sentido" aims at including Local Housing property within the lease market. It was approved on 18th May, by the Municipal Assembly, convened via videoconference, in a private session.
This initiative by Porto City Hall seeks to introduce in the lease market two types of real estate: property under the Local Housing market or available property in the sales and rental market, respecting the competitive mechanisms operating in an integrated and liberalised market and safeguarding public interest.
According to Rui Moreira, it is possible to implement this programme, which can "turn a problem into an opportunity", as there is "an available stock of houses in the city of Porto", to address this shortfall problem at affordable prices.
Highlighting that "municipalities alone are not able to solve housing problems", Rui Moreira said that "state resources should be mobilized", which is something that does not happen, with the Central State "selling equipment that could be earmarked for housing".
The Municipality ensures lease payment obligations by way of contracts and "typology lease contracts cannot establish rental value higher than the ones established".
Porto Vivo, SRU - Sociedade de Reabilitação Urbana do Porto, EM S.A. will be in charge of lease and subletting contract management concluded under the same programme.