Thursday, May 13, 2010

"My Home, My Life" housing program in Brazil

Brazil has begun an ambitious plan to give decent housing to all of the country's slum dwellers. The program called "My Home, My Life" subsidizes the cost of a new home for the homeless and those that live in slums.

The new housing will be built on the outskirts of major cities using private contractors. Brazil is starting with the slums that under threat of mudslides first. The "My Home, My Life" plan has drawn the attention of leaders from other countries who hope to replicate the housing program.

From this Associated Press article that we found at KSAW, writer Marco Sibaja tells us how the program works.

"This is undoubtedly a model that could be used in other countries," said Demostenes Moraes, director of Habitat-Brazil, the Brazilian branch of an international nonprofit devoted to building houses for the poor.

The program, started last year, is part of the social policies that have made President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva one of Brazil's most popular ever - and could help attract votes for his chosen successor, candidate Dilma Rousseff, who trails in the polls going into the October presidential election.

Using federal, state and municipal funds, "My Home, My Life" pays 100 percent of the cost of a home for families who earn a maximum of $870 a month (1,530 reals) - three times the minimum monthly wage of $290 (510 reals.) The amount diminishes as participants' salaries rise.

Houses are built by private construction companies, which act as intermediaries with the bank on behalf of customers.

As of February, the government had 670,000 new-home applications in the works and aims to have signed contracts for 1 million homes by the end of this year, Ramos Coelho said,

A second phase of 2 million homes is planned to begin in 2011, she added.

If the program continues at the intended rate, Brazil could erase its shortage of 7 million homes - and hundreds of illegal settlements that have popped up over the years in the South American nation of 190 million people - in the next decade.

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