The Impact of Mega Events on Housing Rights
By Tina Ziegler, on 3 November 2010
Post written by: Julia Azevedo Moretti
The impact of private and public projects on housing rights has been a topic of passionate discussion in Brazil recently and it has been so because the country will receive two mega events on the next few years – 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. It will be an opportunity to clarify what extent an innovative legal framework together with a considerably organized social movement will be able to avoid major evictions and manage to translate investment in such projects into a pro poor scenario.
It is well documented that urban development in Brazil is characterized by significant inequalities and socio-spatial segregation. On one hand informality drives the production of urban space and continues to be a major problem. Sao Paulo, i.e., is a city of contrasts: despite being the richest city in the country it has almost 32% of its population (over 3 million people) living in precarious settlements such as slums, old tenement houses and illegal land subdivision. On the other hand Brazil is considered to have an innovative legal framework symbolized by the City Statute. Anyhow, since the poor have limited access to centrally located and well serviced land they hold tight to the land they occupied, but the pressure on such areas is increasing and there is one case that illustrates very well the challenges to come.
Favela da Piscina is a slum located in a central neighbourhood near the highway that leads to the international airport and to an important football stadium. The area has been occupied since the 60s and has been fully developed by the poor families. Self built houses were serviced with infrastructure due to the organization of those who live in the settlement.
According to the Brazilian constitution if someone lives in an urban area for 5 years and finds no opposition from the owner this person is entitle to claim ownership of the land. The City Statute, enacted in 2001, reassures that right and enables communities to claim it collectively (collective adverse possession). The dwellers from Favela da Piscina in three different opportunities (1990, 1996, 1998) have tried to obtain such ownership declaration from a Court of Justice, but had no success. Since the land was considered abandoned they let it be and kept living in the area with no land title. Recently, however, under the influence of market appreciation the owner has claimed the land and 120 families found themselves under the threat of eviction. The land price has gone up with the expansion of the nearby highway, urban regeneration projects in the area and the expectation of higher investments for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In response, the dwellers once more organized themselves to file a law suit aiming to obtain a land title, this time based on the City Statute. Will that be enough?
Such examples are been discussed in academic seminars as well as in mobilization events organized by civil society. It is worth follow one experience called Jornadas pela Moradia Digna in which civil society join forces the Public Defender’s Office to discuss and claim housing rights on behalf and together with poor communities – this year the subject will be exactly the impact of megaevents on housing rights. Hopefully there will be time to reclaim the right to the city, in other words, the right of all who lives in the city to enjoy urban life and have access the benefits of the city as well as to take part in the decision making process.Image credits: Fig 1 Agnese Canziani, Fig 2 Source: http://www.habisp.inf.br/