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downtown districts are losing population. The de-population and decentralization of the old city (as much as 30 per cent between 1980 and 2000179) has been mirrored by the rapid increase of people and population densities in the periphery. Housing inequalities are clearly extreme in terms of access to adequate housing, legal status of housing for the poor and the quality of living conditions in the city. The proximity of run-down, congested cortiços to deluxe, high-rise apartments, or tree-lined roads of spacious private villas close to teeming favelas is emblematic of São Paulo’s housing inequality, but closer inspection of the facts reveals a more nuanced reality. UN- HABITAT’s analysis of the 2006 SEADE/UN-HABITAT data on urban living conditions in São Paulo, with a cross-tabulated separation between those who live in cortiços and favelas and those who do not, offers deeper insights, presented in this section. Exponential growth and rapid urbanization have put enormous pressures on the housing sector while boosting the development of the real estate market and raising the value of city land to unprecedented relative, and absolute, levels. Since 1970, the population of the MSP and the whole metropolitan region of São Paulo has virtually doubled, and since 1950 it has increased eight-fold, while the population of Rio de Janiero has increased just fourfold and Buenos Aires has little more than doubled in the same period. Lima and Bogotá have also been growing since 1950 at a similar (and higher) rate to São Paulo. Of all of

Brazil’s metropolitan regions, São Paulo is by far the most populous urban centre, in terms of population and density. While Rio and São Paulo share a similar population density at the regional level (approximately 2,000 to 2,400 people per square kilometre) in their respective municipal centres, São Paulo’s density soars to over 7,000 people per square kilometre, while Rio’s average levels remain below 5,000. Again, the averages hide district level, intra-city differences where, in the case of São Paulo, some peak areas within the MSP reach 29,000 people per square kilometre. What started as formulaic social segregation in the 20th century has become both more pronounced and more complex in recent decades. The affluent used to live in the higher central districts of São Paulo as the poor concentrated on the floodplains and along the

Exponential growth and rapid urbanization have put enormous pressures on the housing sector... railways, always in the periphery. Between 1930 and 1980, rapid urbanization increased social segregation in similar areas, but by the 1970s, the pattern was becoming more complex as poor migrants were invading land throughout the city and establishing spontaneous favela settlements. The favelas broke out of the confines of the traditional periphery and spread. Any empty or unprotected urban space, whether private or public, on solid ground or in highly precarious areas, was vul-

Maria do Carmo da Silva, one of the last residents of Jardim Edite – She and her three children were offered alternative accommodation when their homes were demolished in 2009. According to officals the families who left their houses are now in rented accommodation, paid for by the Municipality, awaiting the construction of social housing apartments on the exact same site. Image: Marcelo Min Fotogarrafa Agency

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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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