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City of São Paulo, Brazil Invests to Buy the Occupied Mauá Building

The city of São Paulo, Brazil deposited R$11 million related to its offer for the building known as the Mauá occupation, located on the street of the same name in Luz (a neighborhood in São Paulo), in the center of the capital. The occupation is one of the most emblematic of the city and, since 2007, is home to 237 families.

The court filing is another step in the expropriation of the building process, started in June 2013, by the administration of Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT) with the signing of the decree of social interest from which the administration has two years to carry out the purchase. The property owner, however, can still claim the amount offered. In this case, it is up to a judge to determine the amount to be paid. If it is too high, the city may decline to purchase.

The parameter to set the price of the property was the Tax and Transfer of Real Estate (ITBI) region, calculated from a minimum benchmark of buying and selling, reset quarterly based on market negotiations. According to the motion, the building has a debt of £2.8 million with the government, but the law does not allow that amount to be deducted from the purchase price.

Just over 200 families, from three housing movements, have occupied the building since 2007. Prior to the coordination between the Homeless Center Association, the Motion Homeless Center (MSTC) and the Central Region House Movement (MMRC), it was abandoned for nearly 20 years. Just four days before reaching five years of occupation, the owner requested repossession, which frustrated the expectations that families would be able to remain in the area, as envisaged in the Constitution.

More than a thousand people have occupied the Maua building since 2007.

In March this year, a new reintegration was rescheduled for mid-April by a new court determination following a report from local firemen indicating that there is a risk of fire in the building. On occasion, the leaders of the occupation demanded effective action of the Secretary of Housing and City Hall, which reiterated its interest in the building but did not make an investment. The pressure worked, and the court filing was made on April 30.

The expectation from the residents of the building, which once housed a hotel, is that it will be turned into a residential area with 160 condos or a dormitory. Surplus families should be welcomed in other housing projects owned by city hall, whose goal is to build 55,000 units by the end of his term in 2016.

On Friday the 9th of May, the mayor said that by the end of this year, all units must be contracted as promised. According to the balance, 14,000 units are under construction. The number, however, has not deterred the militant action for housing in the city. Last weekend, the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST) occupied an area of 150 thousand square meters in Parquet do Carom, in the East Zone.


The MTST is also responsible for the largest occupation of the city, New Palestine, in the south. The same group, in conjunction with the Landless Workers Movement (MST), was responsible for protests in all regions of the city, including the occupation, for a few minutes, of three office buildings under construction.

Even movements traditionally linked to the Workers Party have spared no criticism of the city government housing policy. A month ago, 20 buildings and the surrounding land was occupied by movements linked to the Struggle Front for Housing, and the National Union of Popular Housing Center.

The occupied Maua building is six stories tall and plans to receive 160 apartments.

Despite advances in city housing policy, which finally created the federal program called Minha Casa, Minha Vida ("My House, My Life"), the biggest impediments to housing policy progress, admitted even by the militants, is to obtain land for the construction of social housing to serve those people facing a very low family income of R$1,600.

One of the great expectations to circumvent this problem is the adoption of certain mechanisms of landlord policy contained in the Strategic Master Plan, currently debated at City Hall, which allow for increased resources for housing with greater control of civil society in relation to the use of money, a social housing service and the creation of a database of public land, in addition to the increase of Special Zones of Social Interest, the Zeis, which are dedicated to the construction of social housing.

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Original article, originally published in Portuguese, can be found here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.