Brazil has an urban housing deficit of around 7 million residences; at the same time there are 5 million residences that are not being used or occupied, mainly in the large urban centers.
Representatives of civil society, the federal government, and the Rio de Janeiro state and municipal governments are discussing ways to correct this situation at the Seminar on Housing and the Rehabilitation of Urban Centers.
The national secretary of Urban Programs in the Ministry of Cities, Raquel Rolnik, criticized the disparity between housing construction and the country’s housing needs.
"All everybody talks abut is the deficit, while the problem is that there are also excess residences. The disparity between housing construction and the country’s housing needs is so great that we have reached the point of absurdity in which there are around 5 million residences that are closed," she said.
She referred to the fact that São Paulo already has a municipal social rental policy using existing buildings that were vacant. The municipality rents the building, moves in low-income families chosen through a public selection process, and covers the difference in the amount of rent owed.
"It is a win-win policy. Because the owner gains by being able to rent the property, and the family gains by obtaining a place to live. What must be defended is the right to housing, not the right to property.
"Everybody must have the right to housing, not to property – the right is to decent housing, not necessarily one’s own residence," she believes.
The seminar, which runs through Friday, July 7, is being held at the headquarters of the Brazilian Architects’ Institute.