Brazil's Affordable Housing Program
Brazil’s affordable housing program is making a return. Brazil’s current president, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, announced plans to restart the nationwide federal housing program for low-income individuals in February 2023. President Lula initially created the program, named “Minha Casa, Minha Vida,” which translates to “My Home, My Life,” in 2009. However, former president Jair Bolsonaro neglected to manage the program, leaving more than 120,000 unfinished units throughout the country and many low-income people without access to affordable and sustainable homes.

Homelessness in Brazil

The Brazilian constitution guarantees adequate housing as a component of human dignity, therefore, the resurgence of Brazil’s affordable housing program will be extremely beneficial for disadvantaged Brazilians. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty has risen, impacting access to housing. Estimates indicate that one out of four Brazilians is either homeless or without adequate housing, according to the Homeless World Cup Foundation. Furthermore, in areas such as Rio de Janeiro, the lack of affordable housing and other basic services is magnified.

An Institute of Applied Economic Research study says, by March 2020, Brazil noted a homeless population of about 221,000 people, which equates to a rise of 140% in contrast to homeless numbers from 2012. Rising economic and social inequalities have forced a plethora of the population onto the streets. Abandoned hotels throughout the cities have become homes for many squatters. Many began occupying these abandoned buildings out of pure necessity but also as a form of protest for affordable housing in Brazil.

The pandemic forced significant numbers of citizens back under the poverty line, with around 27 million Brazilians surviving on less than 246 reais a month by March 2021. Brazil was on a positive trend of eliminating poverty until the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a skyrocketing poverty rate throughout the country.

My Home, My Life

The resurgence of the My Home, My Life program will open affordable housing to the low-income population. The original goal of the program in 2009 was to facilitate access to housing after the financial crisis of 2008. Families making under $1,647 a month qualified for the “My Home, My Life” program. Though the program lost funding through the years, it was still able to bring suitable housing to 5.5 million disadvantaged Brazilian people during its years of activity. Reigniting this program is important now more than ever, considering the impacts of the pandemic.

Between March 2020 and May 2022, landlords and authorities evicted more than 125,000 Brazilian people from their homes and 569,000 people faced the risk of eviction by September 2022, with the elderly, children and females accounting for many of those evicted.

President Lula spoke during his presidential debate about reigniting his affordable housing program, saying “We will once again have a far-reaching affordable housing program, with adequate financing mechanisms for each type of public. Having dignified housing, the primary guarantee of a family’s security is a universal right and a requirement for a developed and sovereign Brazil.”

Now that Lula is back in power, his revival of Brazil’s affordable housing program will soon benefit struggling families without adequate shelter.

– Olivia MacGregor
Photo: Flickr