The Favelas Upgrading Program of São Paulo City

In the city of São Paulo more than 30% of its inhabitants, which means around three million people, live in conditions of some degree of urban precariousness, a significant proportion of the overall population (85 million) they were received into urban areas in Brazil, between the sixties and the nineties. These families live in precarious areas designated as favelas, slum tenements or clandestine settlements. Detached from the so called “formal city” they are unequivocal examples of inequality within the urban space.

Faced with the complexity and scale of this reality, developing the housing policy for the city of São Paulo is not the easiest of tasks. In the first place one needs to know in depth and in detail what the problems to be faced are, avoiding simply formulating an empty discourse on urban poverty.

A serious long-term housing policy presupposes the establishment of priorities and, consequently, first of all taking care of the most vulnerable families. This having been understood, in the city of São Paulo the largest favela urbanization program in the country is underway, around 150,000 families having benefited from development works.

The Favela Urbanization Program has the central aim of overcoming a series of deficiencies related to infra-structure, accessibility, equipment and public services, as well as the construction of decent new dwellings. At the urbanization sites, besides the implantation of infra-structure, 10.000 housing units are being built, that substitute insalubrious dwellings or those located in risk areas, where the families from these settlements had previously lived.

The central concept behind intervention is the continued residence of those living there and the guarantee of continuity of the investments made in the building of the housing.

Taking the city itself as the source of a solution, intervention has as its chief objective the building of quality public spaces that respect what environmentally and culturally had previously been in place and that above all lead to the dilution of the urbanistic and symbolic boundaries between the previously “informal” area and “formal” districts.

Suggestions for intervention result from the identification of the characteristics, demands and expectations of residents, this being done from a survey resulting from intensive long-term work alongside the affected communities. These projects face the central challenge of the necessity of articulating public spaces and equipment in such a way as to foster areas of social intimacy.

The urbanization of the favelas and their integration within the city, equipped with the goods, equipment and services necessary to contemporary urban living, has allowed their residents to multiply their possibilities of access to work, study, health, investment in the improvement of their homes and, finally, the obtaining of true citizenship.

The city, recognized as a privileged space for human relations and an eminently democratic forum, allows opposing values to coexist and be confronted, countering the conservative ideas of isolated communities. This privileged role that the city adopts – a space for democratic communal living – is related to the extension of access to opportunities to all its inhabitants.

Municipal Housing Secretariat

Portal da Prefeitura da Cidade de São Paulo