Tag Archives: Brazil

Slummin’ it at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

By Judy Park, Analyst

Attending the World Cup is no easy task. From competing with millions of global fans for randomized lottery tickets at 5 AM in the morning to paying for transport, lodging, and entertainment, it takes dedication. And a small fortune.

But as I watch euphoric, emblazoned fans fill the corners of my low-def screen, it’s clear that it’s worth it.


To give you an idea of the actual cost: an all-inclusive package from a middleman vendor starts at $5000 per head. For anyone not a relative of a FIFA higher-up or the pampered staff of an oil company, it is tough going; most hotels and transport options are booked up a year before the first ball hits the turf.

So how’s an average entry-level twenty-something, and those of similar budget, to partake?

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How do the Olympics affect affordable housing?

By: Judy Park, Analyst

Mega-events such as the Olympics are not just time-honored international sports competitions. They are some of the truly global stages in the world today, with billions of viewers and dollars involved.

Eager for the international prestige and economic multipliers that come with such an event, countries often spend a fortune just to vie for the chance to host. Once they win the bid, a massive construction and redevelopment agenda kicks into high gear: monumental stadiums, transportation networks, airports, athlete housing, luxury hotels, and revamped tourist attractions. While this city-wide facelift generates benefits for the economy and tourism, it also threatens the livelihoods of urban residents already suffering from poverty and marginalization. The rapid pace of development often results in forceful “beautification” programs, soaring housing values, and a lack of due process in relocation efforts.

Brazil, the envied host of this summer’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, is a ready example of this phenomenon. The country has already channeled $4 billion into preparing its cities for the limelight. However, in the process, the government has already displaced 19,000 families from Rio de Janeiro’s well-known favelas, attracting calls of “social cleansing” in the process. Although city officials claim that they have faithfully adhered to established expropriation guidelines, residents say otherwise. In addition, it is often the case that even when better physical housing might be offered, residents do not want to move away from the social and economic networks they have built over their lifetime.

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Interestingly, Brazil’s oft-decried favelas are also being touted as cheap accommodation for World Cup attendees and an opportunity to experience the “real Rio de Janeiro” through “one of the city’s most fascinating and vibrant communities.”

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Theresa Williams, director of Catalytic Communities, notes the dissonance between these two images of the favelas:

“[In the runup to the World Cup] international media are presenting Rio’s favelas either as violent no-go areas or cheap places for tourists to stay. They can’t be both, so which is it?” says Williamson. Rio’s favelas could not only offer a model amid the growing need for affordable housing worldwide but enhance a city already famed for its natural beauty with 600 unique communities with distinct cultures, she says. (Link)

(By the way, we at AHI agree that the urban slum is where the solution to global affordable housing crises begins.)

The negative impact of mega-events on local communities is not new. A study by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) highlights the consequences of Olympic events on housing in six cities over the past two decades:

  • 1988, Seoul: 720,000 people evicted from 48,000 buildings, where 90% of those evicted did not receive replacement housing and most were forced out using violent methods.
  • 1992, Barcelona: Houses prices rose by 250%, making housing unaffordable to many residents and forcing them to leave the city.
  • 1996, Atlanta: Country’s oldest public housing complex, Techwood Homes, redeveloped as the first mixed income HOPE VI community, but net loss of 800 public housing units and minimal relocation assistance during redevelopment. 9000 arrest citations given to homeless people in 1995-1996 as part of city-wide “clean-up.”
  • 2000, Sydney: Real estate speculation led to eviction of residents. Gentrification accelerated and number of homeless tripled over five years.
  • 2004, Athens: Games were used as pretext for displacing Roma communities. 2,700 Roma were forcibly evicted.
  • 2008, Beijing: 1.5 million people displaced over a period of 8 years.

In order to mitigate the costs of any future mega-events, COHRE lays out some “best practices” for bidding and preparing for the Olympics, including: regulating the involvement of the private sector, local community participation in decision-making, public commitments to housing preservation, protection protocols for minorities and the homeless, housing rights legislation, housing-positive regeneration strategies, strong community activism, and the post-Olympics use of venues for social housing.  A good example of the last point occurred in 2012, when it was announced that nearly half of London’s Olympic village would be transformed into affordable rental units to ease the city’s housing shortage.

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What do you think about the impact of mega-events on housing? What should be done to address this issue? Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Sources 

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/worldcup2014/article-2611094/More-World-Cup-concerns-Brazil-Rio-favela-riots-break-just-50-days-tournament-kick-offs.html
  2. http://metro.co.uk/2012/04/23/how-the-build-up-to-the-world-cup-and-olympics-is-affecting-rios-favelas-406668/
  3. http://www.thenation.com/blog/179077/brazils-world-cup-gentrification-through-barrel-gun
  4. http://favelaexperience.com/#rio-de-janeiro-apartment-rentals
  5. http://inhabitat.com/londons-2012-olympic-village-to-be-transformed-into-affordable-housing-units/

What we’re reading: “Vision of the future or criminal eyesore: what should Rio do with its favelas?”

The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins wrote a very interesting piece this week on Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

“…They have become intellectual works-in-progress to universities such as Pennsylvania, Columbia and the LSE. Pennsylvania even built its own campus “pop-up favela” for study purposes. A leading NGO champion, Theresa Williamson of Catalytic Communities, sees the favelas as the “ideal affordable housing stock”. Their buildings are mostly brick-built and sound, maximising every inch of space and fashioned to occupants’ needs. They are low-energy to a fault.

The challenge is somehow to upgrade them to meet even the minimal standards expected for modern urban living, without lurching into old-fashioned, state-sponsored clearance and renewal. It is the challenge of the “smart cities” movement. Rio’s authorities have long acknowledged the policy: Favela Bairro in the 1990s saw them as “civic assets” rather than “aberrations”.”

Read the whole article here.

Civil Society and Nongovernment Organization development in Brazil: can a powerful tradition shift to embrace new models of social business and investment?

By Gláucio Gomes, Institutional Development Manager for Atelié de Idéias, Brazil


Friendship Park in Vitoria, Brazil: Volunteers turn garbage into gardens under the program “Good Effort – Valuing the place where we live” conducted by Ateliê de Ideias, Community Forum – Bem Maior, and CISV International, with the support of the City of Victoria and other partners. Photo: Olga Saxén – CISV Finland.

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Brazil emerged from a distinct period in Brazilian history. Social movements developed as instruments to seek democracy, human and civil rights during the military dictatorship. These NGOs were born when the main focus of Brazilian society was on the big issues: freedom, free elections and free speech.

Most of the social movements came from the rural interior of the country, where land rights and basic social and political reforms were the main issues. Almost all of the local cells of those movements were born inside the Catholic Church, mobilized by community priests. As such, the origin of our non-profit and NGO sector was very politicized and religious. This sector is based on charity, following the principle that the government is a provider from which society must expect the absolute guarantee of all its rights, with no additional fee. The Brazilian constitution of 1988, which was built with the strong participation of social movements, accords with this view.

Organizations slowly formalize and receive funding from international sources.  Most of these social movements started to become formal organizations in the late 1980s and in the 1990s, when they needed to raise funds and hold contracts with foundations and governments.  In the 1990s, all the great militants and left-wing leaders, who were in social movements during the dictatorship period, started to work in NGOs and to help local communities to start their associations, cooperatives, etc. These militants and leaders were great intellectuals, artists, political minds, and community organizers, with the knowledge and skills to mobilize people. However, they were not managers, administrators, or practical leaders with the necessary skills to take care of organizational development and sustainability. Their organizations struggled with the many managerial tasks that international cooperation agencies required of them. In the early 1990s, nearly 95% of funding to non-profit and NGOs in Brazil came from international development aid agencies and foundations such as USAID, GTZ, Oxfam etc.

The public sector becomes a funder. Later in the decade, these international organizations and foundations began to reduce their funding to Brazilian non-profits.  The election of Luis Inácio Lula, our first leftist president (according to the Brazilian political thermometer), took the relationship between civil society organizations and government to another level. Federal and local governments filled the void left by international organizations, building strong partnerships with social movements and beginning to financially support non-profit and nongovernmental organizations. During the 2000s, about 50% of the money to civil society organizations came from governments (federal and local), 40% from international foundations and agencies, and 10% from the private sector.

Government funds enable NGOs to reach an entirely different scale. Now, a small organization from Pernambuco (a state in Northeast Brazil) can become the partner of a ministry or a local government and receive amounts in the order of US$ 250K to develop a social project in its community. That same organization, fundraising with companies and foundations (private sector) could raise, with a lot of difficulty, US$ 50K –but only if the organization had the communication skills to get approval in public selection processes to which more than a thousand other organizations also have applied. In the rural area of Pernambuco it is very hard to find a company willing to fund a local social project.

Independent or merely a conduit? Still, the challenge remains that resources coming through governmental programs have to be implemented using government methods, strategies and approaches. Essentially, those organizations are working as tools or operational means for government policies. We are now debating the main impacts of Lula’s administration. The political and economical relationship model with social movements produced a period of participative public policies, however it has installed some managerial vicious cycles, which threaten the sustainability of these very social organizations. Currently, the problem is that civil society organizations lack the skills in order to develop as sustainable organizations capable of functioning in the “real world”.

The future: moving toward a new model of social business? Prior to the election of Lula, in São Paulo, Brazilian companies had begun to think about social accountability and social investment. However, since Lula’s presidency, no significant private sector participation with social and nongovernmental sector has occurred.

We at Ateliê de Ideias have a different relationship between social organizations and communities/society. Most social organizations are outraged by the idea of building business relationships with communities, embracing self sustaining practices instead of charity, private sector participation in social programs.  Communities are also not prepared to be approached in that way by social organizations, yet. What social investors who want to work in Brazil must know is that there is a previous step – education –   to build the foundations of a new sustainable development model that is in accordance with our political culture and social history. There is place, opportunity and real need for change in this culture.

Gláucio Gomes is a strategic planner for Ateliê de Ideias in Brazil, a social organization producing solutions for urban and local development. Among its many services, Ateliê de Ideias provides access to finance and housing for the citizens of Vitória in Southeastern Brazil. Their flagship program is Bem Morar, an integrated package of services to promote access of low-income families to sustainable and affordable houses.