“We talk about 20 situations. Altogether, we will be talking about more than a hundred people who would be in an illegal housing situation, especially in the urban area. Unfortunately, it is a more common situation in parishes in the urban fabric, where there are more commercial spaces, also at the base of buildings, and these are the spaces that are normally used”, said Ricardo Rio (PSD), in statements to journalists, after the meeting council.
The subject was raised during the executive meeting by PS councilor Ricardo Sousa, questioning the municipality if it was aware of and what it was doing in the face of this “sensitive problem”, disagreeing with the call made by the mayor for people to denounce these illegal situations, considering that would be a step backwards.
“The logic of denunciation is a logic of protection for the underprivileged. In a situation like this, using a commercial space, a garage or an attic for the residences of a disproportionate number of people, even one would suffice, but in this case, there are significant numbers of people, it is a situation in which there is a abuse of the need that people have to find accommodation, by those who are trying to take an undue economic benefit from that same situation”, replied Ricardo Rio.
According to the mayor, who reports “an intensifying” of this reality “in more recent times”, there is no “negative connotation with the logic of the complaint”.
“The logic of the complaint is a facilitator for the council and other institutions, because this is not just the responsibility of the municipal council – namely the monitoring of these people is also up to Social Security, BragaHabit -, being able to act and respond as quickly as possible” , highlighted Rio.
The president stressed that the municipality “cannot go knocking on doors” to verify the existence of this type of case.
“If anyone is aware, whether from the parish council, whether a citizen, or any other entity, obviously we would appreciate you letting us know this information, so that we can act as quickly as possible, as we have done so far in the cases that have been transmitted to us. ”, said Ricardo Rio.
For the mayor of Braga, this type of situation requires “an emergency response”, which “has been articulated” with BragaHabit – Braga’s municipal housing company – and with Social Security, “which have responded” to the needs of these residents.
Ricardo Rio says that, in the more than one hundred people flagged, there are immigrants, but also Portuguese, taking the opportunity to “demystify” an idea.
“Also [há] immigrants, but not just immigrants. This is an issue that needs to be demystified. This is not a specifically immigration issue. There are people from Braga who, for example, [estão em] situations of eviction from long-term lease contracts that, suddenly, became much more expensive than those people could afford, and people are unable to go to the market and access the conditions that exist today”, explained the president of the municipality.
As far as immigration is concerned, Ricardo Rio says that it is, above all, “unprepared immigration”.
“In recent years we have benefited from highly qualified immigration, with more economic power, with a lot of information about reality. In recent months, especially, we have seen many people who came without any basis to be integrated, and it is not even a question of being able to access a job or not, it is in fact not being able to access the housing market and then being subject to this kind of situations”, underlined the mayor of Braga.