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são paulo - a tale of two cities

ripheral settlements, even though they may have stable and adequate income. Rents continue to rise in an environment of soaring real estate values. The housing deficit is almost a massive eight million units for Brazil, as a whole, while the deficit in MRSP is estimated to be 629,000 homes. A survey in 2007 suggested that approximately 620,000 units were vacant in the metropolitan region itself, with 38,604 empty houses in the downtown central districts of MSP. Nearly 10,000 families occupied 44 buildings in the city centre in protest campaigns between 1997 and 2004, while they waited for the state to offer social housing.184 Many of these buildings have since been emptied through forced evictions. Clearly, it is not the wealthy who lack housing options, but those at the opposite end of the income scale. According to government data, 90 per cent of the housing deficit in Brazil is concentrated among families earning less than three minimum salaries (the state threshold to trigger family social welfare assistance). In MRSP, 81.2 per cent of those needing housing earn three MS or less.185 The ‘slum target’ — Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 11 — aims to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.The indicator proposed by the UN system to monitor the slum target is the proportion of urban households lacking access to any of the five internationally agreed-upon slum indicators (refer to Special Feature 1). As cities grow and the number of homes with access to basic urban amenities increases, the proportion without them may fall, but in absolute terms, the numbers of people living in slum households continues to grow. To improve the lives of slum dwellers, Brazil is focusing on its own provision of the five basic amenities: water supply, sanitation provisions, structural quality and durability of houses, sufficient living space, and security of tenure. Defining slum households as ‘households in precarious settlements’, the Brazilian government has added existing data on ‘sub-standard settlements’ to capture a more realistic picture of informal sector homes and settlements. According to the government’s subsequent calculations, São Paulo has more than 30 per cent of the national total of 12.4 million

people living in 3.2 million precarious or substandard housing units. Government data also confirms that the poor are clearly and overwhelmingly carrying the burden of living in substandard cortiços and favelas, comprising the majority of those needing alternative housing. In addition, federal data shows that Afrodescendent (brown and black Brazilians) fare worse than poor whites by almost 10 per cent nationally, in terms of living in adequate housing conditions with all five basic amenities.186 President Lula da Silva launched a new housing package in early 2009 with the expressed intention of building one million new homes as part of his federal housing initiative, ‘Minha Casa - Minha Vida’ (My House - My Life). The key umbrella association championing the right to the city and urban reform, The National Forum for Urban Reform, welcomed the move but noted that while the quantitative deficit in housing is 7.9 million units, the qualitative deficit is over 10 million homes. Generally, the federal government admits that much more needs to be done to close the urban divide of housing inequality, and ‘investments in slum upgrading and land-titling regularization should be accompanied by actions to prevent new informal settlements’.187 With the current high housing deficit, and in the absence of adequate

...for those living in favelas and cortiços things are changing for the better in terms of services, facilities and material goods. numbers of social housing units, efforts to prevent new settlements can only result in increased densification of existing favelas and cortiços. Meanwhile, there have been major efforts in the last two decades to address the housing problem through different initiatives. Large-scale social housing and self-help programmes have been financed. Special zoning laws have been established to protect the poor in the city and cortiços and favelas have been upgraded and regularized through legal titling. These policies and strategies will be discussed in Chapter 5.

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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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