Family facing eviction
More than 2,000 people, including 250 children, pregnant women, older and disabled people, are facing being thrown out of their homes onto the streets of Sao Paulo following a court ruling.
Aid agency CAFOD has today launched an urgent campaign demanding the Brazilian authorities overturn the eviction order and ensure these people have somewhere secure to live in the long-term.
Clare Lyons, CAFOD’s head of campaigns, said: “This is an urgent and frightening situation for those families at risk of eviction in Sao Paulo. We urge supporters in the UK to sign our petition to halt this eviction. It is vital that we act to support the families in Brazil and raise awareness on those with the power to change the situation to ensure a positive and peaceful solution. These people have been living peaceably in a building that has been abandoned for nearly two decades – it is their home and they deserve the right to remain while more secure accommodation is found.
“On 16 July the families will meet with police to discuss arrangements for the eviction. The petition to overturn this eviction will be given to our partners and the community in Sao Paulo so they can show that there is international support for their cause. It will make a difference, but we don’t have much time.”
The eviction order centres on the Mauá building in the heart of Sao Paulo. It was once a luxury hotel but was abandoned and was empty for 17 years until more than 200 homeless families moved in in 2007. They renovated and cleaned the rundown building and since then they have since been trying to win legal rights to their home – which is permitted under Brazilian law. Earlier this year, the families succeeded in preventing the Mauá building from being demolished and started negotiations with the authorities to convert the building into social housing.
Through CAFOD’s Connect2 project, parishes in England and Wales have been following and supporting the Mauá community since 2010.
Ivaneti de Arauj (Neti) is a Mauá resident who works for CAFOD partner APOIO, which champions people’s rights to decent housing. Neti said: “It means a lot that people on the other side of the world know what we are going through. I sometimes feel like giving up, but when your messages of support arrive, I gain strength because I know I am not alone.”
The families in Mauá are asking the Brazilian government to buy the derelict building from the owner, who owes more than £800,000 in unpaid taxes, in order to transform it into affordable social housing for low-income families. If owners of abandoned buildings don’t pay taxes or use their building for the good of society, they are breaking the law in Brazil. Yet judges and the police often defend their financial interests, rather than ordinary people’s right to a decent place to live.
Repeated appeals to overturn Mauá’s eviction order have been rejected by the judge. People are living in fear that the police could come in and force them from their homes at any time. CAFOD’s partner APOIO is providing legal support and helping families negotiate with the authorities to stop this eviction.
CAFOD is asking supporters to sign a petition to the São Paulo City Council, Housing and Human Rights Departments and the Brazilian President. The petition asks the authorities to stop these evictions and ensure the families have somewhere safe to live in the long-term.
Please add your name online before Monday 9 July: http://www.cafod.org.uk/take-action/brazil-stop-the-evictions.
You can also print out and share the petition in your parish or community and return to CAFOD the week beginning 2 July. Download form here: http://www.cafod.org.uk/take-action/brazil-stop-the-evictions/brazil-petition
Please send completed petitions to: CAFOD Brazil team, Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JB.