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Thousands of people protest in Portugal over the housing crisis

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By Michael Pereira and Pedro Nunes

LISBON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Thousands took to the streets on Saturday in Lisbon and other Portuguese cities to protest rising rents and house prices at a time when high inflation makes it even more difficult for people to keep the wolf from the door.

“Today there is a huge housing crisis,” said Rita Silva, of the housing group Habita, during the protest in Lisbon. “This is a social emergency.”

Portugal is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe, with government data showing more than 50% of workers earned less than 1,000 euros ($1,084) a month last year. The minimum monthly wage is 760 euros.

Rents in Lisbon, a tourist destination, have risen 65% since 2015 and sales prices have skyrocketed 137% in that period, shows data from Confidencial Imobiliario, which collects housing data. Rents rose 37% last year alone, more than in Barcelona or Paris, according to another real estate data firm, Casafari.

The situation is especially tough for young people.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon is around 1,350 euros, according to a study by the real estate portal Imovirtual.

The socialist government last month announced a housing package that ended the controversial ‘Golden Visa’ program and banned new licenses for Airbnb properties, among other measures, but critics say it’s not enough to lower rates. short-term prices.

At the protest, organized by the Home to Live movement and other groups, 35-year-old illustrator Diogo Guerra said he heard stories every day of people struggling to access housing.

“People who are… working and homeless, people are being evicted because their house has been turned into short-term (tourist) accommodation,” he said.

Low wages and high rents make Lisbon the world’s third least livable city to live in, according to a study by insurance brokers CIA Landlords. The current inflation rate of 8.2% in Portugal has exacerbated the problem.

“With my salary, which is higher than the average salary in Lisbon, I can’t afford to rent an apartment because it’s too expensive,” said Nuncio Renzi, an Italian commercial executive who lives in the capital.

($1 = 0.9226 euros)

(Reporting by Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes; Screenplay by Catarina Demony; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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