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SEHAB and mapping são paulo’s housing needs Even though São Paulo tops the list of Latin America’s most modern and developed cities, more than one-third of its population lives in poor-quality housing, mainly favelas and cortiços, in substandard settlements. The municipal Secretariat of Housing and Urban Development (SEHAB) is responsible for devising, planning, implementing and evaluating municipal housing and urban development policy. It started getting serious about the city’s housing problem from 2001, when the victory of the Worker’s Party in municipal elections allowed SEHAB to change the city’s master plan and initiate a new policy approach. It began with a strong emphasis on improving both quantity and quality of housing for low-income households while increasing public participation in all decision-making and implementation processes. The SEHAB strategy centres on urbanising and upgrading housing and infrastructure, while also legalizing land tenure in informal settlements. This general programme of inclusion departs from earlier efforts to exclude, ignore or remove informal and illegal settlements and is an expression of a new approach to urban regeneration, putting the ‘right to the city’ concept into practice. Not only more inclusive, the approach values the investments homeowners made in recent decades through widespread ‘autoconstruction’, resulting in most irregular and informal, multistory homes being made of durable materials. Reinforced by new legislation — including the 2001 City Statute, the 1988 Constitution and a raft of laws that emanated from these overarching frameworks — financial instruments and partnerships with the private sector, SEHAB is the main driver of the new approach, which some analysts report as having led to ‘improvements on an impressive scale’. In particular, one study finds that the ‘new focus on valuing the investments that low income groups have already made in their housing and settlements has proved to be more cost-effective than previous topdown interventions’. A critical tool in decision-making and the implementation of the city’s technical and social interventions has been the establishment of a special analysis and data collation centre at www.habisp.com. The Habisp project started with technical assistance cooperation between SEHAB and the Cities Alliance, under the title of Strategies from the Sustainable Planning, Financing and Implementation of Low-income Housing and Urban Development Policy. Its main mission is to serve as a tool for housing policy. Updated continuously, the system monitors the indicators of areas with substandard housing, classifying priority areas for intervention according to socioeconomic, geological and structural factors. The main municipal research and data entry took place between 2005 and 2007, resulting in a single-system database that has registered 1,635 favelas, 1,942 cortiços and 1,120 illegal plot allotments. Creating the database has enabled prioritisation of works to be more objective and criteria-driven in a context of high contention and controversy surrounding ZEIS allotment, ‘urban operations’, legal titling, upgrading, evictions, environmental protections and the like. The accessibility of information and special mapping since 2008 has also offered greater participation and transparency than had previously taken place in more closed-door negotiations between key stakeholders, often without representation of favelados or cortiço-dwellers themselves. SEHAB is not the only agency researching and analysing data concerning urban development and low-income housing policy. Among the various think-tanks and institutions that collect quantitative and qualitative data and critique trends and initiatives in São Paulo are, most notably, the University of São Paulo (USP), the Institute Polis (POLIS), the Institute for Economic Research Foundation (FIPE), and the Metropolis Studies Centre (CEM) of the Brazilian Centre for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap). Core census and living conditions data collected by the IBGE and SEADE Foundation are used as the basis for most agencies’ analyses. Sources: Boldarini, M. (2008). HABISP publication, Prefeitura Da Cidade de São Paulo. Secretaria de Habitação. Budds, J.,Teixeira, P. & SEHAB. (2005). Legalization in São Paulo, Brazil. Environment and Urbanization, 17(1), 89-113. Retrieved from: http://eau.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/17/1/89

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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...

Profile for unhabitat
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