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Cooperative As Sete Bicas will open university residence

The housing cooperative As Sete Bicas, which celebrated its 48th anniversary this month, is preparing to open a university residence for 21 students at the beginning of next academic year, the president of the cooperative told Lusa



To the management of more than 4,000 houses, nursing home, day care centre, day care centre, home support, auditorium, park and swimming pool, the cooperative now adds to this list a university residence, called "Student's House", with 21 beds distributed by double and triple rooms, said Guilherme Vilaverde in an interview to Lusa, regarding the current housing problems in Portugal.

The residence, which is born in Senhora da Hora, in a former gymnasium that time has made outdated, had an investment of 400 thousand euros and aims to respond to an "enormous difficulty and gap" in society, he referred.

"A large number of students displaced from their lands cannot find decent housing and are often victims of the huge speculation that rages in the country, especially in large urban centres", he stressed.

Hence, he added, the importance of this residence that is fully equipped and whose monthly fee, which will be around 300 euros, includes water, electricity, internet and cleaning expenses.

Guilherme Vilverde stressed that the aim of this equipment, as well as the others he manages, is not profit, but quality of life and sense of community, something that characterises and differentiates the cooperatives - a feeling that over time has been lost, as well as civic and popular participation, he regretted.

The leader of As Sete Bicas Housing Cooperative attributed the loss of the "mystique" of the feeling of community life in cooperatives to changes in society and current experiences.

In his opinion, new generations have the idea that someone else will solve problems for them, namely housing problems.

In the same way that teachers have demonstrated to fight for what they consider to be their rights, Guilherme Vilaverde believes that the new generations should also be the solution to the problem.

"The cooperative project, the idea of civic participation and the idea of constituting themselves as small groups and as a solution are missing," he considered.

New housing needs to be built, but the barriers and limitations are "immense", from the lack of land or the high prices of what is available, the lack of materials and the cost of labour, he specified, recalling that the Sete Bicas Cooperative has not built anything for 14 years.

"I am finding it very difficult for major developments to be possible in this field in the next decade, which is why I argue that it is up to the State and the local authorities, if they want the cooperative sector to be a strong ally in the promotion of affordable housing, to impose the creation of mechanisms," he concluded.

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