October 07, 2015

Integrating Social Housing in Brazilian Cities  

Minha Casa Minha Vida Flickr User Fotos GOVBA

Imbalances in the distribution of transport, housing, and employment – almost ubiquitous in Brazilian cities –  hinder people’s access to basic social rights, such as health, culture, mobility, education, and leisure. To address this concern, ITDP is part of a team developing tools to help local governments determine how best to integrate housing for low income Brazilians with other urban improvements.

ITDP Brazil, WRI Brazil Sustainable Cities, Federal University of ABC (UFABC) and the National Department of Transport and Urban Mobility (SEMOB) have partnered with the National Housing Secretariat (SNH) to support the third phase of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida Program (PMCMV). Minha Casa, Minha Vida was established in 2009 with the mission to increase low-income families’ access to housing. The program is a strategy from the federal government to address the gaps in opportunity related to the accumulated housing deficit. In May 2011, the program expanded its target to try and construct two million housing units. 

minha-casa-minha-vida1As part of this work, ITDP Brazil and our partners are developing tools to assess the location, integration with the environment, and urban design of these new housing projects. These tools will be used by both technical teams to get project approval, and by the Ministry of Cities to monitor progress on the program’s overarching goals. The work also involves an analysis of the overall costs linked to the choice of location of the housing project. This will help avoid the city’s expansion and therefore minimize demand for infrastructure, equipment and services into new areas.

“ITDP Brazil believes that one of the ways to restructure our cities is, in addition to revitalizing space and infrastructure for urban mobility, encouraging a compact, dense, environment featuring a mix of uses – including employment, housing and transport – and promoting greater social and cultural diversity,” said Clarisse Linke, Executive Director of ITDP Brazil.

Looking at housing policies in Brazil through the prism of urban mobility brings up challenges for creating integrated urban spaces. Many projects aimed at addressing social housing reinforce spatial segregation of low-income families. These choices result in a number of negative impacts on the quality of life and mobility or residents.


“The cooperation between different organizations and the Ministry of Cities enables departments to develop more comprehensive and effective guidelines to manage decision making. The PMCMV, when properly inserted into the urban fabric, has the potential to improve the quality of life of millions of Brazilians to facilitate access to opportunities, services and entertainment,” emphasizes Nivea Oppermann, Urban Development Director of WRI Brazil Sustainable Cities.

The multi-organizational collaboration hopes to instill the principles of sustainable urban mobility in the creation and selection of new projects, so that, moving forward, the public policies of social housing in Brazil become an important force in urban renewal.

See a version of this post in Portuguese
Top photo courtesy of Alberto Coutinho/AGECOM, Flickr, cc  


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