Housing shortages are old problems in large Brazilian cities like Sao Paulo that were created decades ago when people migrated from the countryside. Over the last few years, a rise in real estates prices has made the situation worse. CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reported this story from Brazil.
One year ago, about 8,000 homeless families took over a large area in the southern part of Sao Paulo and set up a tent city where they have remained ever since. The residents call their camp Nova Palestina, or New Palestine.
Edileuza Santos is one of these squatters. Despite the lack of plumbing, she’s managed to build a cozy place and hopes someday to own a home.
“I would never have the means to buy a house at market prices and renting is so expansive. So the best thing for me is to stay here and fight for my goal. And many people dream of having a home. So we get together and we work for our dream,” said Santos.
The occupations are led by a highly organized and politicized group, the Homeless Workers Movement [in Spanish]. The organization said workers have a right to a decent place. They share their thoughts and meet in communal kitchens.
“We know political parties and politicians won’t bring a solution to the housing deficit. With our movement we have gained some ground, but the situation is far from ideal,” said Wilson das Dores, a camp coordinator.
City authorities acknowledged that there are almost 900,000 families who are homeless or living in substandard conditions, mostly in slums. But officials said they are reducing the deficit with housing construction. The city plans to build 55,000 units over the next three years.