300 families warn of neglect and may have houses torn down in the

Last week, the government of São Paulo vetoed the Bill that suspended repossessions during the new coronavirus pandemic.

Under the authorship of Deputy Leci Brandão (PC do B) and Deputies Maurici (PT) and Jorge do Carmo (PT), the proposal had been approved more than a month ago by the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo.

Meanwhile, the evictions continue. At Chácara das Gaivotas, in Grajaú, around 300 families are at risk of leaving their homes amidst the health crisis. Many have lived there for over 30 years.

“Our house, in this case, is as if it was worthless. All this time, all this construction that we had, the expense, it’s as if it wasn’t worth anything. If the work has to be done, will we be left helpless?”, points out 24-year-old worker Érica Rodrigues Galvão.

The City Hall of São Paulo justifies the families that the area is part of the city’s Spring Recovery Program, and the works are aimed at environmental repair of the Billings and Guarapiranga dams. The two water reservoirs supply the largest city in the country.

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But the announcement of the expropriation, according to the families, was sudden. At the end of 2020, social workers from the City Hall visited the houses registering the residents, but without giving any reason. Six months later, the warning would come: by July 24, the houses should be vacated.

In exchange, the municipal administration would guarantee a rent aid of 400 reais for six months and the promise of a place in a housing complex in the region – which has not even been built yet. The agreement was not accepted by most of the family nuclei, who today remain in their homes and fearful of tractors.

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“There is no document, it’s all spoken by mouth, it’s a social worker who sets up a meeting, we ask, try to call, they don’t speak, and we stay like that. The thirty-day period has passed and we still haven’t left the house”, explains Érika.

“What we’re really wanting right now is just compensation, so that we can leave with the guarantee that we’ll be able to have a fixed house in front of us, we don’t want to stay in the rent”, he adds.

Most families, like Erika’s, acquired the land informally and do not present documentation. In meetings, councilor Alfredinho, from the PT, has been trying to negotiate with the administration of Ricardo Nunes (MDB) an alternative for the hundreds of residents.

“We are not against the work, the Mananciais program. Even because we need the dams, both. They are the ones that produce the water we consume. The problem is that when the government comes up with the program, which has expropriation to be done, it should have already been married with another housing option for the person who will have to leave there”, highlights the PT councilor.

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The parliamentarian asks for transparency and does not understand the urgency for the removal of families in the context of a health crisis.

“It’s regrettable this attitude of the City Hall in a moment with this throwing people into this situation. An absurdity that we will not accept. We are currently negotiating in the political field, but if we don’t move forward, we are going to the legal field”, Alfredinho points out.

During the pandemic, at least 14,300 families were evicted in Brazil, during the period from March 2020 to June 6, 2021. The data are from the most recent survey of the Zero Eviction Campaign, organized by the housing movements since the beginning of the crisis.

In the state of São Paulo alone, 3,970 families have been evicted and more than 34,000 are threatened with being removed from two homes.

“We don’t know if a truck like that can come out of nowhere, together with the police, and force us to leave the house. We don’t know what could happen”, warns the resident of Chácara Gaivotas.

Other side

In a note sent to Brazil in fact, the Housing Secretariat of the City of São Paulo stated that it is not responsible for the area or assistance to families, as it belongs to the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM).

The report also asked the City Hall if there is a forecast for the removal of the families; what will be offered after removal; and what reasons justify the urgency of the expropriation process in the midst of the health crisis. The questions, however, were not answered until the closing of the report.

Edition: Leandro Melito

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