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CDHU: Company of Housing and Urban Development of the State of São Paulo Founded in 1949 as a state-level agency in São Paulo’s Department of Housing, the Companhia de Desenvolvimento Habitacional e Urbano (CDHU) aims to promote public housing, with special focus on low-income needs. The CDHU operates in an environment of massive housing deficiencies and all of the attendant issues of growing informal, illegal and environmentally precarious housing developments. The evolution of the CDHU housing supply and its growth as a monolithic company has been dramatic. In 1986, it built houses in just 3 per cent of São Paulo’s municipalities, but by 2008 it was operating in 96 per cent of the state’s administrative areas. CDHU is today one of the largest housing companies in the world, with a budget of nearly US $750 million per year. Since its inception, CDHU has built and sold approximately 440,000 households benefiting approximately 2 million people in 617 municipalities throughout the state of São Paulo. As a mass consumer of building materials and an employer of large numbers of workers, CDHU’s impact on the local and national economy is considerable. Therefore, actions taken by CDHU can lead to increased economic dynamism in the municipalities and regions where it works to solve social problems through construction and urban planning, contributing to the process of urban renewal. CDHU is criticized for being monopolistic, but it claims that extensive experience and economies of scale allow it to build with speed, volume and cost efficiency. CDHU is also able to offer subsidies, cross-subsidies and credit to selected low-income families to help them finance new housing. In light of São Paulo’s huge housing deficit, a burden that falls disproportionately on low-income families who also rarely have access to private commercial lines of credit or other financing alternatives, CDHU’s mechanisms and programmes have the potential to offer solutions that the municipality cannot manage alone. In São Paulo, CDHU implements a wide programme of construction and redevelopment that includes building new social housing units, slum upgrading and favela urbanization, rehabilitation of cortiços, provision of specialised rural housing, housing for Quilombos (specialised communities of former slaves), and housing for indigenous people (through FUNAI the National Indigenous Foundation) and for state public servants (PHAI).

Image: Marcelo Min Fotogarrafa Agency

Repossessed land at the Quarry in Guaianases, in the far Eastern Zone of São Paulo . Behind the rubble a public housing project for re-housing the residents.

Profile for UN-Habitat

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Profile for unhabitat
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