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Portugal: Protests Over Housing Crisis

Portugal is a country situated on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe, whose territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. It features the westernmost point in mainland Europe and has Spain to the east of the border, the sole country to have a land border with Portugal. This is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with Lisbon as the capital and largest city by population.

According to Reuters, thousands of people have taken to the streets of Lisbon and other cities across Portugal in protest against increasing rents and house prices, heightened by high inflation, which is making it even tougher for people to make ends meet. Portugal is one of Western Europe’s poorest countries, and government data shows that more than 50% of workers earned less than 1,000 euros ($1,084) per month last year. The monthly minimum wage is 760 euros, and rents in Lisbon have jumped 65% since 2015.

The Socialist government announced last month a housing package that, among other incentives, ended the controversial “Golden Visa” scheme and banned new licenses for Airbnb properties, but the problem with this new package still remains that it’s not enough to reduce prices for a short period. The Portugal Golden Visa is an immigrant investor program by the Government that granted residency in Portugal to people who invested in properties worth at least €500,000 or created 10 jobs in Portugal.

The protest, organized by the movement “Home to Live” and other groups, drew attention to the severity of the housing crisis in Portugal, with many stories of people struggling to access housing and being evicted due to short-term tourist accommodation.

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