The new brazilian housing policy and the urban planning practice: the Local Housing Plan (PLHIS)

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The new brazilian housing policy and the urban planning practice: the Local Housing Plan (PLHIS) as an urbanistic interest matter Júlio Celso Vargas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil, Alexandre Pereira Santos, 3C Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Brasil, Tiago Holzmann da Silva, 3C Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Brasil, Resumo: este trabalho apresenta um relato da experiência prática e uma crítica aos chamados Planos Municipais de Habitação Social, instrumento recente da política habitacional brasileira, inserida no marco geral da política urbana do país. É descrito o sistema geral de financiamento e estímulo à organização local do setor habitacional, especialmente àquele destinado à parcela da população normalmente excluída do mercado privado; é apresentado o PLHIS, seu movimento de implantação institucional e, a seguir, relatada a forma como os autores lidaram com o desafio de elaborar um tipo de plano relativamente inédito no panorama da atividade profissional. Finalmente, como conclusão, é feita a crítica ao arcabouço político-institucional e à estratégia de aplicação do instrumento, bem como desenvolvida uma breve reflexão sobre os resultados e a própria abordagem dos autores. Palavras-chave: Habitação; Política Pública; Participação. Abstract: this work introduces a report of a practical experience and a criticism to the so called Municipal Planning of Social Housing, a recent instrument of the Brazilian housing policy, inserted in the general framework of the country’s urban policy. The general system of the funding and stimulus to the local organization of the housing sector is described, especially the one addressed to the portion of the population which is excluded from the private market; it is shown the PLHIS, its institutional implementation movement and, following, it is related how the authors dealt with the challenge of elaborating some kind of relatively unheard plan within the overview of the professional activity. Keywords: Housing; Public Policy; Participation. 1. ‘PLHIS’ AS PART OF THE NATIONAL URBAN PLANNING AND HOUSING FUNDING STRATEGIES Inserted in a new institutional framework concerning the housing policy, the so called PLHIS – Plano Local de Habitação de Interesse Social [Social Housing Plan] – is prescribed as a politicaladministrative instrument that carries out programs, goals and actions aiming at overcoming the housing deficit and improving the quality of life. It has a focus on low income families, which are defined as those families whose income is between zero and three national minimum wages, amounting to a maximum of R$1,530.00 (fifteen hundred and thirty Reais) or approximately US$ 875.00 (eight hundred and seventyfive American Dollars) as of September, 2010. This is a requirement established in the N°11.124 Federal Law of 2005 and in the N°02 Resolution of 2006 from the National Social Housing Fund – FNHIS – Managing Council1 for adherence to the National Social Housing System2 – SNHIS and must be made in a “democratic and participatory” way, accordingly to national and state housing policy and the local budget and financial management instruments. On the other hand, the “Housing Plan” (name by which the PLHIS is more commonly known) must be understood as one of the municipalities Sectorial Plans3, which succeed, complement and integrate its master plan4, on a broad territorial planning view which emerges from the 1988 Brazilian Constitution. Along with the Mobility, Environment and Sanitation Plans5, the PLHIS should take part in the strategic and normative framework of the Brazilian urban

1 2 3

In portuguese: Conselho Gestor do Fundo Nacional de Habitação de Interesse Social. Sistema Nacional de Habitação de Interesse Social.

Planos Setoriais. Plano Diretor. 5 Which can be divided in the Drainage, Water Supply, Sewage and Residues Management plans. 4

policy. This framework is, however, slowly built, either by the difficulties inherent to the national culture or to the internal contradictions of the urbanism practice. Nonetheless, housing was the chosen theme to start a new planning cycle right after the conclusion of masterplans for all cities in the country with over 20.000 inhabitants6. The Sectorial Plans preparation cycle began in 2007 supported by the National Housing Secretary7 and funded by FNHIS. This sought to provide the municipalities with funds to hire private consultants to design, investigate and research its housing situation, paying expenses that ranged from technical wages, support personnel transportation and daily expenditure, to the costs of mobilization, communication and support actions for engaging civil society in the participatory process, in accordance with a Proposal Submittal Manual issued by the National Housing Secretary. This initiative leads to several interpretations: first, that the Federal Government, offering non-repayable funds for the making of ‘PLHIS’ tries to stimulate municipalities to enable themselves to subsequent federal funds through the structuring of its City Housing Council8 and the creation of a City Housing Fund9, forcing their adherence to the “new order” represented by the SNHIS, and allowing the access to further funding only after the plans were designed. Second, and almost contradictorily, that the Federal Government tends to consider the municipalities as incapable of developing the Plans on their own, understanding the lack of adequate technical staff and stimulating the search of third party services. Some initiatives to enable municipal technical teams to develop the Plans on their own certainly happened – at least as far as monitoring third party services, as when the masterplans preparation and review courses were promoted in partnership with universities. These initiatives, though, were insufficient to overcome enormous deficiencies in the greater part of cities governments, especially in small and medium-sized ones. These facts lead to a possible third conclusion: that federal power is interested in instigating the private consultancies market, distributing funds in highly-pulverized small doses all over the country, so that companies, NGOs and institutions until then kept out of public power hiring circuits could access them and be an active part of this newly-opened market. 2. THE ‘PLHIS’ AS A MARKET FOR THE PLANNING PROFESSIONALS This promotion process had a very well-defined focus, trying to distance itself from the niches traditionally occupied by architecture and engineering consultant companies or by universities (represented by their so called “community outreach departments”) who tended to control the public contracting panorama10 when it came to hiring services that start by the word plan. At that time Caixa Econômica Federal11 wished to reiterate that, unlike the masterplans, the PLHIS would require a more diverse team, with protagonist presence of economics, public administration, sociology, pedagogy and “social technology” experts, all with proven experience in the so called “participatory processes”. 3. THE MAKING OF THE PLAN 3.1.

The standard method

Broadly, the making of the PLHIS must follow a standard method proposed by the Federal Government. It relies on the traditional precepts of reading > analysis > diagnosis > prognosis > plan > management and indicates a three-stage service, namely:

6 7

Which was a mandatory activity from which depended the acces to federal funding for those cities. In Portuguese: Secretaria Nacional de Habitação, the part of Ministry of Cities that deals with all housing and settlement issues – which exclude

mobility and sanitation that have their own secretaries. 8 Conselhos Municipais de Habitação. 9 Fundo Municipal de Habitação de Interesse Social. 10 According to Federal Law N°8.666/1993 all public driven or funded contracts have to undertake a minimum-price bidding process which, in our view, tends strongly to favor low-cost in spite of design quality or performance standards. 11 In English, stands for National Economic Treasurer. The Nation-wide exclusive financial operator of the municipalities–Federal Government partnerships.

Stage 1 – Methodology: whose objective is, basically, to set the work’s methodology defining the teams’ attributions, schedule, communication with and mobilization of the community. The stage is concluded with a Public Hearing. Stage 2 – Diagnosis: whose objectives are, basically, to collect data, to analyze the legal basis, to train the municipal technical team (made up of city officials from different sectors and departments), to analyze the cities' housing scenario determining the housing deficit; to hold community participation workshops and seminars, concluding the stage with a presentation during a Public Hearing. Stage 3 – Strategies and Actions: whose objectives are to define the strategies, goals and actions, indicators and monitoring system; to hold a participatory seminar in which the population might evaluate and discus the plan and define the hierarchy of the issues to be tackled and actions to be taken, concluding the stage with the community approval in a Public Hearing. This is the final stage, the one in which the housing plan is actually established. 3.2.

The necessary technical construction

It is possible to see that the proposed work structure will demand, in its final stage, a document with administrative features, with technical-operational traits like the ones of a government program. More than a territory-based plan, which defines “where”, the PLHIS final document emphasizes “when” and “how much”, stressing funding sources, budget management and programs and actions implementation deadlines. In this sense, the diagnosis stage becomes the most relevant moment from the urban practice viewpoint: it is when spatial investigation takes place, along with geo-statistical interpretation, territorial reading and projection and the management of interfaces which range from social to environmental, in short, the subject-matter of the architecture-originated designers practice. It is when its authors need to develop reading methodologies which still demand a fair amount of intellectual construction to achieve a consistent urbanistic interpretation of information and data, especially due to the originality of the product to be made. The central issue is, then, to locate and quantify a certain city condition (in the form of a set of indicators) regarding the housing deficit phenomenon, which can be understood as a physical expression of urban poverty: the lack and precariousness of dwellings.

IMAGE 1 – Conceptual and methodological diagram demonstrating the PLHIS development, presenting agents, responsibilities and the action framework put in place in the making of the Plan.

Among varying conceptions, the definitions from the Fundação João Pinheiro12 are the nationally adopted official parameter, serving as a basis for the National Housing Policy and the National Housing 12

State Government research foundation from Minas Gerais, Brasil. Its publications can be found in

Plan13 – PLANHAB. Its most recent publication from 2008 – made in partnership with the Ministry of Cities14 (MCidades) – reinforces three broad categories of the Housing Deficit, which are generically called deficit criteria: a) Basic or quantitative deficit: “more immediate and intuitive notion of the necessity to build new houses to solve specific social and housing issues detected in a certain moment” (SNH, 2008). In other words, it is the need for complete replacement of precarious units and for care for families living below minimum housing standards. These are the “HOUSES THAT LACK”. b) Inadequacy or qualitative deficit: “reflects problems in inhabitants’ quality of life. It is not related with quantity of dwellings, but with the internal specificities in them” (SNH, 2008). In other words, the need for improvement of housing units that demonstrate a specific kind of poorness, among which are the lack or dilapidation of appropriate bathrooms, supply infrastructure (water, energy, garbage collection and sewage), the excessive densification (“crammed” households) and lack of land registration (irregular property ownership). These are the “HOUSES AND PLOTS THAT MUST BE IMPROVED”. c) Demographic demand: “it is the need to build new units to support families that may be formed and need housing as a result from population growth and changes in family arrangements” (SNH, 2008). These are “THE HOUSES THAT WILL LACK IN THE FUTURE”. To achieve these definitions, many inputs were manipulated, spatial entities were articulated and “translated” from the abstract-universal to the familiar-specific; structures, actors and processes (of housing production – or non-production) were evaluated and comprehended. In this part of the process, one can find many information and data sources that must be synthesized through a “spatialising process” in which the information, as diverse as it is, – particular or generalizing data, thematic or from general tendencies, expressed through territorial, cadastral or diffuse entities, etc. – is aggregated in one synthetic base from the city’s physical space – its neighborhoods and regions, districts and nuclei. Each piece of information contributes to the knowledge of the housing aspect of city, in a diagnosis that is the synthesis of a certain condition as a city. It´s necessary to point out that the PLHIS funds distribution is decentralized – to reach the greatest number of municipalities – and pulverized in small grants in each contract – around R$30,0000.00 (approximately US$17,000.00, seventeen thousand American Dollars in September 2010). This is hardly enough to promote the cities’ census, and does not provide for complete registries since the city must attend to a multiplicity of activities in about one year of PLHIS making. As a concrete example, let’s consider São Francisco de Paula’s case, a large municipality (about 3,274sq km) on the Campos de Cima da Serra, a region located between Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina states, in southern Brazil. It has a small urban area – its township – and an enormous rural area divided in districts which are structured around villages that act as their urban nuclei. The total population is of about 21,000 inhabitants, 14.000 of which are in urban areas.

IMAGE 2 – Census tracts division of the municipality (left) and income analysis made from census data over the city’s political division into rural districts (right)


In portuguese: Política Nacional de Habitação and the Plano Nacional de Habitação. Ministério das Cidades.


In this case, to make an intelligible and appropriate territorial division for the PLHIS purposes, it was necessary to relate the main data source available, National Institute of Geography and Statistics15 – IBGE – census tracts to spatial entities familiar to the population and the local government: the city’s neighborhoods. Inside the urban perimeter, it was verified that the census tracts didn’t correspond to the city’s known neighborhoods, not serving to communicate – with government officials or the population – the diagnosed reality – in spite of, in a strict technical viewpoint, corresponding to the city’s socio-economic distribution. Thus, the detailed information provided by the census needed to be aggregated and redistributed, so as to classify the neighborhoods according to their socio-economic reality and to their general housing deficit identified in several on-site verifications. To achieve this redistribution, it was necessary to consider different inputs, relating other data available and, again, try to consolidate this data in the structure composed of neighborhoods. The census tracts were manipulated to the following criteria, in order of priority: 1º) the city official division in neighborhoods and the number dwellings identified in each from a direct count made on a high resolution orbital image and census data (available from the year 2000 and projected to this date); 2º) the dwelling's income pattern from census data; 3°) territorial division of the Programa Bolsa da Família16; 4º) territorial division of the Programa Saúde da Família 17; 5º) registry data from the city’s Labor, Housing and Social-work Department18. At the end of this process, the distribution of census data synthetically considered the reality verified on site by the technical team and by city officials and could still relate to the information provided by the participatory process – which will be seen in more details below. In the rural area, the deficit criteria could be established directly through the calculations made with census data and the census tracts. The census districts differed little from the municipality’s administrative districts. Therefore, the rural census tracts and their data were consolidated in each district and the urban tract of each district was directly made equivalent to its urban nucleus. A citywide housing prospect was then established with a precise and updated description of the housing situation for the whole territory according to the established PLHIS methods but which went beyond them. This prospect also aimed at identifying areas in which there was a concentration of several dilapidation factors, such as low income, lack of infrastructure, a high quantity of inappropriate or unsuitable dwellings and so on. It was realized that these areas need specific and focused actions that must surpass infrastructure and housing dimensions, integrating them in the larger urbanity and thus solving the exclusion caused by poverty and promoting social and infrastructural “weaving” necessary to the sustenance and development of the city. These areas were named Precarious Settlements and distributed in three subcategories defined by the actions necessary to better them and by how critical their issues were. Following MCidades’ PLANHAB criteria on settlements’ consolidation19 the classification tried to establish a systematic approach that could take into account each settlements’ specificity as well as serving as a comparison and hierarchy criteria. It defined whether the population could remain where settled or needed to be relocated, even considering of higher priority those situations in which lives were at risk. It was defined that SUBNORMAL AGGLOMERATES are areas of concentrated poverty, but which are viable for regularization and consolidation, these are all areas which concentrate environmental and social vulnerability but maybe subject of qualification interventions. The SETTLEMENTS NOT VIABLE FOR CONSOLIDATION followed, since they are areas in which the occupation is forbidden by law, but where no hazard is present. In other words, people living there need to be relocated, but are


Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, which promotes population counts and census periodically, constituting the main national statistical source 16 Federal Government minimum income social program which holds reliable registers, even if limited to the poorest sectors of the population. 17

Family health care program with good territorial coverage and that holds reliable and up-do-date data on the population’s housing, sanitation, income and education. 18 In portuguese: Cadastro da Secretaria Municipal do Trabalho, Habitação e Assistência Social. 19

Which separates informal settlements between those which ARE CONSOLIDATED, VIABLE FOR CONSOLIDATION and NOT VIABLE FOR CONSOLIDATION, according to the existence and consolidation of infrastructure, hazards, legal viability of permanence, etc.

not prone to life threatening risks. Last are the HAZARDOUS AREAS, those in which there are specific hazard components, where the relocation of families is not only mandatory but has the highest priority.

IMAGE 3 –Township map indicating slope and settlement inappropriate areas (left) and existing subnormal agglomerates versus hazardous areas and APPs (right).

4. THE POSSIBLE AND NECESSARY TECHNICAL EVOLUTION FOR HOUSING POLICY, PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT Geographic processing tools facilitate data analysis and spatialization of results, in such a way as to consolidate a spatial vision of reality, one which discerns the different actors – and actions – through maps, charts, tables, etc. Moreover, the urbanist interest in geo-processing tools is precisely its capacity to spatially promote operations of analysis, parameterization, synthesis, comparison that enable a vision of statistical reality in conjunction with the territorial one and even the projection of future scenarios based on parameters derived from historical behaviors or on hypothesis more subjectively anticipated by the urbanists. Through operations with data from different sources in a spatialized base – with a relatively small minimum spatial unit such as the township’s neighborhoods and with greater detail in those areas of special concentration of precariousness – it is possible to define regions with precise limits and specific characteristics which are used, then, to describe the mentioned state of the housing aspect in each city. The information on this consolidated database can be related to on site verifications, to the community impressions expressed in the public events, to city officials’ perception of the problem and even to urban space physical information, such as street integration, the presence of public equipments, concentration of commercial and exceptional uses, topography, proximity of water streams, density, etc. The sum or factorization of all this data in such diverse formats is possible when substantiated by empirical reality – never from a “drone-like”, distanced, view – and is performed through proxies and weighted sums that stratify and classify the city regions (neighborhoods in São Francisco’s case) and make clear the relations between the different factors analyzed; thus shedding light in reality and allowing directed future scenarios inference.

IMAGE 4 – Examples of data-relation through GIS: satellite digital imagery used to determine non-urbanized areas in the city (left) and the classification of these areas according to social housing promotion aptitude (right).

In São Francisco de Paula’s case, it could be observed that the township’s urban evolution had a fundamental impact on the city’s neighborhoods division and also in the formation of fringe areas around the central neighborhoods in which the excessive slope almost literally concurred with the precariousness of the occupation: the steeper the slope, the poorer the population and the more dilapidated the settlement. From income, sanitation and other data it was discerned which areas were the worst among the precarious ones, even attaining its stratification in categories which are absolutely intuitive and clear regarding public-policy actions prioritization necessity. These categories, in a great measure corresponded to the opinions of the population and the city officials, expressed in public hearings and workshops with the first and technical meetings with the latter. Technology, in this case, enters as a processing and advanced visualization tool, since it not only produces maps, charts and classifications that explicit the reality, but mainly evaluates the precision of the analytical hypotheses observed empirically in reality. In a more precise way, with this spatialized and integrative processing of information, the urban fabric general condition evaluation can be attained – its predominant settlement pattern and its relationship to deficit – and the precise definition of exceptional areas, in which it is possible diagnose in detail so as to guide the posterior procedures according to the operation priority of actions specified for each region.

IMAGE 5 –Rua da Laje settlement record showing its physical, infra-structural and social dimensions (left) and pictures from the settlements access through the Slab Street which gives its name (right).


The participatory process

Simultaneously to the “spatialising process”, it is required, in the scope of the making of the PLHIS, to perform socio-political inclusion movement that has been called, in recent Brazilian historiography, “participatory process”. It is substantiated not only through the so called “community reading” process – the necessary and traditional activity of listening to the community, considering its opinion as an input as relevant or more than the eminently technical ones – but also through the establishment of formal instances of opinion, deliberation and co-management of the municipality housing policy. Beyond the requirements of promoting “participatory” events in each of the PLHIS’ stages – which are mandatory feature enforced by the financial backer – the methodology that interests urban designers is the one that seeks to qualify technical information, obtained in a “colder” manner, with accounts and distinguished opinions from the general public or from urban development groups of interest. In this sense, the purpose is to understand and activate the existing participation instances in each municipality. Its formal existence is important, but mostly the confirmation of its action on relevant questions to the city is essential. The paradox that emerges in this “new order” purposed by the Federal Government – since it introduced the Estatuto das Cidades20 aiming to be the promoter of the direct democracy through sectorial councils in every city – is that the central role of local councils is not backed by an autonomy of organization. In other words, from these councils depend the management of the federal resources to each area of expenditure21 – education, health, housing, public security, etc – but experience shows that an excess of 20

In English: Cities Charter. The term identifies the Federal Law N° 10.257/2001 that generally states the “right to the city”, the need for urban property to comply to its “social function” or “role”, inserting legal instruments for public management of urban land and buildings, long-term planning obligations and several other supplements to the 1988 Constitution comprising the most important urban policy document in Brazil’s contemporary history. 21 Even the lending or granting of federal funds in years to follow will occur only if their actual existence and regular operation are proven.

formality in their conception fragments this counseling role expected from society to the point of diluting the efforts of the few willing to take on this responsibility. The formulation of public policy for small and average cities usually collides with this excessive formalization of representative relationships, since it lacks adaptation to local or regional reality and assumes the form one council for each expenditure area, based on a centralized model imposed by the federal administration. Apparently, it would make much more sense to establish a single managing city council for each city or region that could deal with all issues in a more rational and integrative manner, especially since the population’s disposition to participate in debates over public policy depends on tangible, objective interests, and planning is seldom made attractive and hardly presents perceptible shortterm attributes.

IMAGE 6 – Participatory events promoted in each city: public hearing (left) and workshops (center and right) had over 120 participants each in São Francisco de Paula and were usually held at Friday evenings, from 7 to 9pm.

In this sense, the time and resources devoted to kind of this plan and for its implementation management are insufficient to promote a deeper social work, one which creates the base for sound discussions through empowerment of the city’s inhabitants. To mitigate this and to achieve a viewpoint shared by a broader social group, it is necessary to rely on the support of techniques that bring individuals perceptions to debate, especially during collective construction workshops, and on the approach to locally meaningful institutions, such as mothers’ clubs, neighborhood associations and farmer cooperatives. The starting point is that these are the social players who will be in condition to achieve protagonism in city management once they become willing to deal with “future” issues, as opposed to immediate needs. Therefore, the participatory process promoted tries to influence the participants answers the least so as to obtain a qualified perception of housing demand and would ideally instigate self-organization. This direct information, along with the empirical reality verification and the strictly technical data form a cohesive whole that does not aim at defining more than it adequately is able to, but describes reality with sufficient precision to orient public policy and to enable its execution verification. 4.2.


Thus considering the different input and in order to portray reality, six deficit concentration categories were established. From empirical verification, analysis of data from the census, from the registries of Bolsa Família and Saúde da Família programs and from the city’s social work can be established a deficit concentration gradient – which also points at higher action priority, as follows: a) HAZARDOUS AREAS: places subject to natural or man-induced hazards. Usually on the fringe subnormal agglomerates or poor neighborhoods, demanding constant attention from public social work and suffering from the lowest incomes – usually below minimum standards and dependent on government income support programs, from complete lack of infrastructure, total house dilapidation – which are commonly made from scraps or improvised material – and have been established through squatting. The decisive aspect, though, is the presence of hazard components22 that endanger continuously the life of every family in them. b) SETTLEMENTS NOT VIABLE FOR CONSOLIDATION: very similar from the above, differing for not being subject to hazards but still located in areas on which construction is not permitted23 – either 22

The general parameter adopted considers the Permanent Protection Areas – called APPs – where federal law forbids human occupation to preserve essential natural resources and are define as those with terrain slopes above 30% (or 15°), less than 30m from streams and hilltops, or lowlands subject to flooding, areas prone to rock or mudslides and chemical or biological contamination. 23 Areas included in the above parameter, but not prone to hazards and also occupations on the wayside of roads, transit and rail lines, those under power transmission lines and squatting in public buildings – which by law are better protected against squatting, as opposed to urban

by environmental or legal impediments, also established through squatting. Along with the category above, all the population in this kind of settlement is subject to mandatory relocation. c) Places of VERY HIGH deficit concentration: subnormal agglomerations, areas subject to squatting, absence of urbanistic regularity, lacking access to infrastructure, intensive housing precariousness and frequent presence of hazard and non-consolidation situations, with extensive attention – at times including all inhabitants – by social support programs and common presence in social assistance actions; d) Places of HIGH deficit concentration: neighborhoods with lower income, high percentage of the population supported by the social programs and empirically evaluated as concentrators of housing problems such as house dilapidation, absence of pavement, presence of squatting and irregular land occupation, etc; e) Places with AVERAGE deficit concentration: neighborhoods with more evenly distributed income, lower dependency on social programs, consolidated urban fabric and lower demand of social assistance; f) Places with LOW deficit concentration: the most central neighborhoods – or the better consolidated ones – which in smaller cities are clearly distinct due to building density, strong public services and commerce concentration, higher income, presence of public equipment, well conserved street paving, etc.

IMAGE 7 – Township deficit classification map (left) and table (right).The gradient has 6 steps which range from red (hazardous areas) to light-yellow (low deficit concentration).

5. CONCLUSION, CRITIQUE AND FUTURE ALTERNATIVES Since the Federal Constitution sanction in 1988, the country is continuously advancing in reconstruction policies for urban and housing planning. This was done through several legal and administrative instruments, especially the Estatuto das Cidades which defines the legal requirement of masterplans for cities above 20,000 inhabitants; the creation of SNHIS and FNHIS and, more recently, the approval of Gratuitous Technical Assistance Program24 and establishes a new legal, political and administrative framework that places municipal administrations as protagonists and effective spatial planning and public policy agents for their territory. The PLHIS formalizes the municipality public housing policy in such a way as to guide and enable its supervision in short, medium and long term. The PLHIS formulation must be the opportunity to organize the city’s ongoing actions – existent or not, disconnected, fragmented, rare, occasional – towards an actual housing policy. In this sense it is, following the master plan – instrument which, in theory, all cities had to make and therefore experienced as a social and political “phenomenon” – an initiative that gives the chance to study and understand the city, making explicit its physical and socio-economical structure, always in a spatial basis, determining, therefore, “what”, “how” and, mainly, “where”. In consonance to the SNHIS, the municipalities must also compose their own Municipal Housing System so that they can access the Federal funds provided by FNHIS. The thesis is that they will turn away from

private buildings or plots which are subject to compulsory donation to low income families who occupy them for 5 consecutive, non-disputed years. 24 In Portuguese: Assistência Técnica Gratuíta, established through the Federal Law N°11.888/2008 which offers subsidies for professional technical assistance in building and remodeling homes for low income (below three minimum-wages) families.

casuistry or opportunism of searching funds fortuitously available or from momentary political and economical alliances towards a sustainable, verifiable and predictable way in time and space. However, it is remarkable that these salutary legal organization initiatives and long term policy construction, such as the ‘PLHIS’, are opposed by a culture that privileges casuistry and nonplanning, is unruled, hardly transparent and marked by electoral populism. Attached to this “urgency culture”, it is common to see that the public administration management structures are outdated and inefficient, the city councils barely represent and act very little, the city funds are created without funding sources or clear application guidelines and the urban land management instruments are mere legal formalities. It is not uncommon as well that the administrators and city officials are devoid of (or are unconcerned with) long term view, concern for the continuity of public policy and, in general, are unprepared to directly relate to society, seeing popular participation and co-management as impediments to their immediate actions execution. The mentioned conceptual housing policy quality idealized and nationally implemented by the Federal Government in recent years, and which vanguard is the ‘PLHIS’, still depends, for its consolidation as a prevalent management model, on qualitative leaps in every public administration level in order to produce its effects on the society. On the other hand – and in a paradoxical way – it is noted that at the same historical moment that the Federal Government encourages urban development and housing national planning consolidation, it develops the largest housing program in the nation’s history – at least in terms of the funding volume – called Minha Casa Minha Vida, without any respect or mention to, not even in its idealized guidelines, city planning or to ‘Planos de Habitação’ themselves. Even so, we believe that long term planning should be pursued and that, better than the masterplans, the Housing Plans – ‘PLHIS’ – are more concrete and effective from its finality – imposing a specific approach in housing – to its structure, which demands definite actions and programs propositions, with timeframe, funding sources, goals and a permanent monitoring system, with attention to the actions efficiency and the program’s effectiveness. Finally, it is very attractive to planning professionals, since its requirements, in spite of its relative low payment, span from the traditional planners’ skills of analysis and design of spatial guidelines to advanced technological skills, will to “range” the territory to exhaustion and an actual COMMITMENT TO THE PROBLEM of Brazilian housing need that involves NEGOTIATION and SOCIO-POLITICAL MEDIATION well beyond the “PARTICIPATIONALISM”. REFERENCES: MCidades. 2008. Manual de Apresentação de Propostas 2008-2011, Ação de Apoio à Provisão Habitacional de Interesse Social, Programa Habitação de Interesse Social, Fundo Nacional de Habitação de Interesse Social. Brasília : Secretaria Nacional de Habitação, Ministério das Cidades, 2008. INSTITUTO PÓLIS. 2004. Perfil da habitação de interesse social em Porto Alegre: Relatório Final. Porto Alegre : Instituto Pólis - Instituto de Estudos, Formação e Assessoria em Políticas Sociais, 2004. IBGE. 2000. Download de Estatísticas - Agregados por Setores Censitários. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. [Online] Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, 2000. [Citado em: 15 de novembro de 2009.] Censos/Censo_Demografico_2000/Dados_do_Universo/Agregado_por_Setores_Censitarios. —. 2007. Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios. Brasília : Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), 2007. Fundação João Pinheiro, Centro de Estatística e Informações. 2005. Déficit habitacional no Brasil: municípios selecionados e microrregiões geográficas. Belo Horizonte : Fundação João Pinheiro, Centro de Estatística e Informações, 2005. BEZNOS, Clóvis. 2006. Desapropriação em nome da política urbana (art.8). [A. do livro] Adilson Abreu DALARI e Sérgio FERRAZ. Estatuto da Cidade: comentários a Lei Federal 10.257/2001. São Paulo : Malheiros, 2006. CARDOSO, Adauto Lúcio. 2008. O déficit habitacional nas metrópoles brasileiras. Indicadores Econômicos FEE. [Online] 3 de julho de 2008. [Citado em: 17 de março de 2010.] Secretaria Nacional da Habitação. 2008. Déficit Habitacional no Brasil 2007. Brasília : Ministério das Cidades, Secretaria Nacional da Habitação, 2008.