Federal my life my house entities program: a case study about high quality housing provision in Brazil

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This paper deals with the topic of self-build housing and local facilities in Brazil and Netherlands, as part of the comparative research “Between self-regulation and formal government: the challenges of self-build housing and facilities, BESEFOGO”. Self-build is defined as the practice in which people produce their own house and (collective) neighborhood facilities. This can be with or without the hiring of outside expertise (architect, constructor, workers etc.) or official funding outlets (bank loans, mortgages etc.). Formal institutions and governance systems face increasing difficulties in both countries to satisfy the need for good quality, affordable housing, which is an important condition for socially sustainable urban development. Brazil has a long history of low quality informal self-build housing areas that currently face the challenge to improve regarding tenure security, safety and access to basic needs like sanitation, energy, water and public transport. São Paulo has a long history of innovative policies regarding self-build housing. Initially, the self-help housing occurred mainly on individual lots purchased in peripheral areas, slums and squatter areas. In general, this form of self-help was domestic with possible help of friends and relatives, bringing together groups to a collective building task force. During the last two decades, self-help and collective task forces were steadily incorporated by government housing programs. Programs like São Paulo’s local Self-Management Housing Program (1989-1991), the statewide São Paulo’s Self-help Program (1995) and the federal Solidary Loan Program (PCS, 2004) and My Life My House Entities Program (PMCMV-E, 2009) show the consolidation of a different housing production in Brazilian context. The main research question is: how is the capacity for self-regulation in practices of selfbuild housing and facilities related to formal governance and regulation domains and how can this relationship be optimized to create more socially sustainable forms of urbanization? This paper analyses as specific case study: Ipiranga Building Project, a retrofit project of an old public empty building in São Paulo central area. This is the first renovation project of an existing building ever approved by federal government program PMCMV-Entities. The building was used as a Justice Court House during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was left empty after 1992. The housing movement -ULCM – Unificação das Lutas de Cortiços e Moradia (Tenements and Housing Struggle Union) – occupied the building the first time in 1999 and again in 2007. In 2009 the housing movement succeeded to negotiate a donation of the 15-story office building for housing use. In 2012 the donation was reverted into a concession for housing purposes. It is the first time the concession is used within PMCMV-Entities and it also important because it changes de usual Brazilian public housing policy based on private property. The building was transformed completely remodelled and have now 120 apartments with areas ranging from 25.00m² to 58m², a ballroom and support areas for families with incomes up to 3 minimum wages. This paper analyses the opportunity of high quality affordable housing in central areas based on self-help and participative practices in the recent Brazilian experience.
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