Portugal to turn ‘thousands’ of public buildings into housing

The Portuguese government said Friday it would turn public buildings into housing and help young home-buyers in a bid to ease a housing crisis that has hit major cities.

Housing Minister Miguel Pinto Luz said “thousands” of public buildings could be turned into apartments and homes under the plan of the centre-right government.

Prime Minister Luis Montenegro told a press conference in the northern city of Porto that 30 measures would be taken in the coming months “to respond to an essential problem that is also a fundamental right.”

Montenegro, whose minority government came to power in April, said “we have not answered the needs in recent years” for housing.

Rising property prices have caused a housing crisis in recent years, particularly in major cities such as Lisbon and Porto.

The government also promised financial aid and tax breaks for young property buyers.

But it also said it would suspend some measures taken by the last Socialist government, including restrictions on homes for holiday rentals.

The government said it would let local authorities decide how many holiday home permits to give. As his government has no majority, Montenegro said he was ready to discuss the new measures with opposition parties.