Campaign victory prevents mass eviction in Brazil

By agency reporter
November 26, 2017

More than 200 families from the Mauá community in São Paulo are celebrating after a last minute agreement was reached between the city's housing department and the owner of the building, saving them from being forcibly evicted from their homes on 22 November 2017.

In September, the UK aid agency CAFOD launched a petition to halt the eviction of around 1,000 people living in the abandoned hotel in the centre of São Paulo, Brazil. In a landmark case, after ongoing campaigning by the families, public authorities have agreed to purchase the building for around £4.6 million (20 million reais), allowing for it to be converted into social housing.CAFOD's petition to stop the eviction gained over 4,000 signatures.

Emily Mulville, CAFOD's Brazil Programme Officer, said, "We are thrilled to hear that a peaceful solution has been reached and an agreement made for the public purchase of the Mauá building. A great injustice has been avoided, preventing a forced eviction and possible use of police force which would have seen almost 1,000 people being thrown out to the streets, including older people, pregnant women and children.

"The news is cause for great celebration and families will have a roof over their heads for Christmas. It comes as a real relief for residents, who for the last few months have lived in fear of being forced from their homes and uprooted from their lives, jobs and schools.

"This agreement is a landmark victory for community organisation, resistance and solidarity in Brazil. The news gives hopes to many other vulnerable and homeless families in favelas and other poor urban areas across São Paulo who are fighting for their right to decent housing and campaigning for better living conditions, security of tenure, and improved access to basic services

"We have been overjoyed to see such fantastic support for our petition to Brazilian authorities to stop the eviction. These were handed in to authorities last week and to the Mauá families. I would like to thank our supporters from the Catholic community in England and Wales, and beyond, who joined our petition. Your prayers and messages of solidarity have given the families strength and hope at this difficult time.

"CAFOD will continue to stand in solidarity with the families as legal proceedings advance to make official the purchase and secure the building' conversion for social housing."

The Mauá building had been abandoned for almost 20 years when the families moved in and repaired, cleaned and made the property into a thriving community. It is one of the oldest occupations in the centre of São Paulo, and is an emblematic case of community struggle and resistance by the families to remain in their homes.

Heluiza Soares, a coordinator from CAFOD's São Paulo partner APOIO, said: "In such difficult times, we have achieved a victory. This whole process of community resistance has led to a fantastic victory, and it has also led to a renewal of hope for all of us.

"Long live the fight for decent housing."

* Independent Catholic News


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.