Family saved from eviction
A CAFOD campaign to suspend the planned eviction of more than 2,000 people, including 250 children, pregnant women, older and disabled people, has ended in victory. After an urgent call to action in support of the Sao Paulo community, more than 3,000 CAFOD supporters signed a petition in just one week demanding the Brazilian authorities overturn the eviction order and ensure the families have somewhere secure to live in the future.
Parish justice and peace groups, school children and a local MP were among those who sent messages of support and signed the CAFOD petition. This week the eviction order was overturned and the Brazilian authorities are looking into ways to house the families for the longer-term.
CAFOD’s partner APOIO, which champions people’s rights to decent housing in Sao Paulo, took CAFOD’s campaign petition to the Brazilian authorities to show the strength of international support for the community’s situation.
APOIO’s Osmar Borges said: “The petition was presented to the authorities and we read your letter of support in front of the 2,000 protesters. This unity and support was fundamental. We have shown that the struggle makes the difference. If we had just waited and done nothing, then the evictions would have taken place. But instead, today we can celebrate the fruits of this solidarity and collective action.”
In addition to suspending the evictions, the government has announced that the Mauá building, where the majority of the affected community lives, will be considered for regeneration and possible conversion into social housing. The authorities also agreed to convert another abandoned building in Sao Paulo city centre - Prestes Maia - into social housing for the 378 homeless families who live there. The authorities have confirmed that more than 600 families from Mauá and Prestes Maia will be guaranteed social housing in the centre of São Paulo.
Emily Mulville, CAFOD’s Brazil Programme Officer, said: “Thank you to everyone who took action to support the families facing eviction. Your actions came at just the right time. The public visibility has meant that carrying out the evictions is now politically impossible, particularly given the lack of alternative solutions and in the face of upcoming elections. We will continue to work with our partners in São Paulo to support these and other families in their struggle to get decent, permanent housing.”
Last week nearly 2,000 people marched through the streets of Sao Paulo in support of housing rights. This march added to the pressure on the Brazilian authorities to suspend the eviction orders which threatened families in Mauá and in another abandoned building, Rio Branco.
CAFOD’s campaign petition action centred on the Mauá building in the heart of Sao Paulo. It was once a luxury hotel but was abandoned and lay 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.