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slum upgrading 1 — paraisópolis: inclusion through topdown urbanization To many commentators, the district of Morumbi in São Paulo epitomizes social exclusion and the urban divide. In the early 1970s, Morumbi was vacant land in a section of high-end, low-density suburbia with minimal urbanization. Since then, a rash of new deluxe apartment blocks has sprung up in the area, and every plot of land in Morumbi is now packed with condominiums, streets, businesses — and one huge favela. From high up in a high-end tower, well-heeled residents can look down onto the rusted corrugated roofs and concrete decks of 17,200 informal homes that house the 80,000 residents of Paraisópolis (‘Paradise city’) and see what are likely the very homes of their own apartment’s cleaners and guards. Located in a ravine punctuated by streams and occupying 84 hectares of land, Paraisópolis is the fourth-largest favela in Latin America. It is now surrounded by middle- and upper-income residences in a high-demand area of the city — an area where two worlds are closely joined in a symbiotic relationship of mutual dependency and tension. An estimated 60 per cent of those in the favela work in the neighbouring districts as domestic helpers, drivers, labourers and security guards — the latter somewhat ironically, as many residents feel the need to be protected from their favelado neighbours. It is said that Paraisópolis is considered the ‘danger zone’, while the rest of Morumbi is considered the ‘fear zone’. Yet, the crime rate in Paraisópolis is significantly lower than that of other favelas in São Paulo. Paraisópolis today is vastly different from the Japanese immigrant settlement that took hold there in 1921, when the owner of the land divided it into 2,200 lots. Temporary wooden shacks began to appear in the area in the 1970s as slums were razed elsewhere in São Paulo. Numerous efforts by successive governments to eradicate the slum were unsuccessful, and Paraisópolis grew fast. The favela filled with migrants from the north and northeast of Brazil, along with people displaced by large public works such as roads and Metro lines. The population of the favela has doubled since the year 2000, and its poverty has become severe, with 70 to 75 per cent of residents earning more than one minimum salary (MS) but less than three MS (the national poverty threshold). The most common type of work cited by residents is low-skill manual labour. Like most other favelas, Paraisópolis is an informal community that lacked many municipal services until recent efforts to upgrade its infrastructure. It is considered to be somewhat ‘special’, since it is surrounded by more affluent neighbourhoods that are a source of nearby employment for the favelados and is an obvious target of the government’s social policy. Critics of the government deride Paraisópolis as a cause célèbre, and even a showpiece, since it is so central and accessible to visitors, officials and politicians. Since 2003, Paraisópolis has notoriously (and allegedly) been controlled by the prison-based drug gang Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC). Still, several different favelado organizations exist in the slum, and they have successfully partnered with the government to implement upgrading projects. The Union of Inhabitants of the Favela of Paraisópolis (or Union) has represented inhabitants’ interests since in 1983. In 1994, the Multi-Stakeholder Forum was formed to better integrate social programmes in the favela and, in 2004, the Steering Committee for Paraisópolis was created to oversee the upgrading of the slum, particularly the multi-year efforts of SEHAB - the municipal authority for housing. In the late 1980s, the municipality of São Paulo gave up trying to eliminate Paraisópolis and began to work to improve the social welfare of the residents in situ. Through the 1990s, various small social improvements and water and sanitation works were implemented. In 2000, the municipality developed a strategic plan for the area under the new initiative, Barrio Legal — Legal Neighbourhood Programme, with Paraisópolis as its first recipient of assistance. An extensive programme of land reform began to determine land ownership in accordance with the City Statute of 2001, but also in line with requirements of the Zones of Special Social Interest (ZEIS) rules. (See 8 on the ZEIS mechanism in São Paulo.) According to a new decree in 2006, the programme now offers two options to the original land owners: donate the land to the municipality (thus avoiding any taxes owed) or pay the outstanding urban land taxes and receive a certificate of permission for construction. In the first case, the municipality gives a certificate of ownership to the occupant of the property. There are reportedly 2,200 plots of 500 square metres that stand to be regularized in this way. The municipality’s extensive multi-year upgrading programme for Paraisópolis began in 2005 with a US $10 million investment. The project was meant to develop a replicable approach to upgrading other favelas in the city, such as Heliopolis, which is also centrally located. In the first phase, sanitation and emergency systems were put in place, removing homes at risk from collapse, flooding or mudslides. Paved roads followed, along with stream channels, street and alley improvements and new drainage systems, after which recreational areas and a linear park were developed. CDHU helped build 2,500 new housing units inside the favela, which opened for residency in 2008. In late 2008, a

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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...

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