Hábitat para la Humanidad Brazil
Habitat's work in Brazil
Housing need in Brazil
A recent survey ranked São Paulo as the tenth most expensive city in the world (up eleven places since last year), and Rio de Janeiro as the twelfth (rising seventeen places). New York, North America’s most expensive city is at number 32, making Brazil the most expensive country in the Americas. The figures concerning the housing situation in Brazil are staggering. Brazil has between 6 and 8 million fewer houses than it needs, and the poor are the most impacted by this deficit. People earning a monthly salary of US$1,000 or less account for about 90 percent of the housing deficit, which is expected to remain stable for the next decade.
The greatest needs are in the northeast and southeast areas of the country. In the cities, there is urban overcrowding and housing deterioration. It is estimated that more than 50 million Brazilians currently live in inadequate housing conditions. Most of these families have an income below the minimum wage of roughly US$350/month. According to data from several sources, 26 million people living in urban areas lack access to potable water, 14 million are not served by a trash collection service and 83 million are not connected to sewage systems.
Habitat for Humanity in Brazil
Habitat’s work in Brazil began after an extended period of severe rain in December 1987, which displaced many families in the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais in the southeastern region of Brazil. With the support of Methodist Communitarian Center of São Gabriel quarter and the approval of a construction project of 100 homes, work officially began in 1992. Habitat for Humanity Brazil has now helped build over 3,400 homes in six different states throughout the country.
Habitat Brazil works to build complete homes as well as improve existing ones. In addition to construction services, the organization offers assistance in other areas to ensure the right to the city and to decent housing for all families. These services include community development, credit access, governmental resources, financial education, land ownership and advocacy work.
The following are some of Habitat for Humanity Brazil’s current projects.
Women Building Homes and Rebuilding Lives: This project is a collaborative effort developed by local women’s centers, government and Habitat for Humanity Brazil to ensure better living conditions for 100 women and their families in the municipality of Feira Nova. The women benefiting from this program work long hours in the manioc (cassava) flour mills that are a major employer in the area. The partnership is working to increase access to affordable, reliable and safe housing, as well as to ensure rights among a group that has historically been denied citizenship by social processes of exclusion, invisibility and violence. As the second half of the project begins, the impact that the project is having on 100 women-headed households is evident.
Tidying up the House: This project focuses on housing rehabilitation and repairs in the slums of Sao Paulo. Home improvements can radically impact the health of a family, and ultimately foster a virtuous cycle of development. Working with local government and other non-profit organizations, Habitat Brazil helps low-income families to remodel their homes to make them safer and more livable. Each remodel costs about US$3,000 per family—a significantly smaller amount than would be required to build an entirely new home.
Building Citizenship: Habitat for Humanity has recently begun to work with a local neighborhood in Recife called Bomba do Hemeterio (Hemeterio’s Pump), focusing on housing improvements for this low-income community. This year, housing has become a rising priority for the area. The local NGO Bombando Cidadania and Habitat for Humanity Brazil are partnering to provide financial literacy workshops, on-site technical assistance and courses on home improvement techniques, as well as financing for the residents of Bomba do Hemeterio. The US$40,000 of revolving, microcredit funding is available for applicants to borrow up to US$2,000 for home improvements.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.