“Carlos Moedas, the president who canceled 460 affordable housing in Restelo. There is an ideological left and a shameless right, which see areas of the city as reserved for a few.”.
Pedro Anastácio, PS councilor at Lisbon City Council
Following the presentation, this Thursday, of the Lisbon Municipal Housing Charter, in which the priorities for investment in the sector in the city are defined, Carlos Moedas emphasized the solutions advocated by the council he led as balanced, participatory and inclusive, by provide for collaboration between the public and private sectors. This would be the opposite, he said, of “imposed and ideological solutions, which pit the public against the private and in which it is believed that the central State can solve everything”, a model that the PS government presented through the Mais Habitação program, he claimed.
An accusation that extends the criticism already made by Moedas to the way in which the socialist management of the previous city council executive, led by Fernando Medina, will have conducted the entire process of the mega-project of construction, in Alto do Restelo, of housing under the Program Affordable Income Program (PRA), originally presented in February 2021.
On Twitter, socialist councilor Pedro Anastácio accused Coins of canceling the PRA project in Alto do Restelo.
The PRA Alto do Restelo project was put up for public consultation on March 3, 2021 and provided for 629 dwellings, with typologies between T0 and T4, divided into eleven buildings, five of which have 12 to 15 floors. Replicating the PRA public-private partnership model, a program presented in 2016 by Fernando Medina as a way to combat the shortage of housing at fair prices for the middle class, the project would have to find an investor who would guarantee the construction of the development, in exchange of ceding 30% of the properties for sale to private parties.
The public consultation process, which ended in April 2021, was very participatory, accounting for 568 contributions from citizens and entities and from it emerged an obvious challenge to what many considered to be the excessive volume of the proposal. In fact, 378 of the entries were related to this aspect.
Following the consultation, in June 2021, the council decided to substantially reduce the volume and size of the development, which now includes nine buildings, with a maximum of eight floors, containing 460 dwellings, all allocated to the PRA, with an investment 80 million euros. Version that, even so, did not satisfy the residents of Restelo, who claimed that the project was “excessive and disproportionate for an already consolidated area”. They mentioned the arrival of over 1700 inhabitants and over 850 cars. Because of the criticism, the Lisbon Chamber again reduced the buildability index, betting on lower buildings. The tallest would have seven floors.
In April 2022, with Carlos Moedas already leading the executive, the PS and the independent councilor of Cidadãos Por Lisboa (elected by the PS/Livre coalition) had a proposal approved, later endorsed by PCP, BE and Livre, with the abstention of PSD/CDS-PP leadership, for a new public discussion of the previous executive’s project for 20 days. The latest version of the PRA Alto do Restelo project provides for 391 dwellings, divided into five lots.
Accused by the PS of having done nothing to move forward with the project, Moedas guarantees he has no mental reservations about it, preferring to point out what he considers to be the “cognitive dissonance” in relation to it. This is because, he says, in the moments of public participation there was “total indignation” of the residents of Restelo. Its councilor for Urbanism, Joana Almeida, recognizes the need for affordable housing in Lisbon, but defended proximity, diversity and balance in decisions. “We will listen to the people,” she promised.
On the 14th of February, at a national PSD meeting on housing, Filipa Roseta, the councilwoman for the department in the capital, emphasized the need to focus on construction in run-down areas. “We could make a neighborhood in Restelo, but we’re going to make a neighborhood in Beato, a place marked by crime and drugs”, she said.
Questioned about PRA Restelo on the sidelines of the presentation of the Municipal Housing Charter, Filipa Roseta guaranteed that the project was not abandoned. “It was just a change of priorities. It will happen. The idea is to even launch a contest of ideas with the population, within what was the result of public participation, to continue to develop. The thing is, he won’t even make it in time for the PRR, even if we wanted to.
Despite Filipa Roseta saying that the PRA Restelo will happen, nothing is known about the way it will be carried out or the deadlines. Therefore, the realization of the project is, at this moment, an unknown. Verdict: Partly true.