Belo Horizonte

New Urban Occupations in the Metropolitan Area of Belo Horizonte and the Struggle for Housing Rights

Authored by: Maria Tereza Fonseca Dias , Juliano dos Santos Calixto , Larissa Pirchiner de Oliveira Vieira , Ananda Martins Carvalho , Carolina Spyer Vieira Assad , Lucas Nasser Marques de Souza , Fúlvio Alvarenga Sampaio , Julia Dinardi Alves Pinto , Marcos Bernardes Rosa

The Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138183889
eBook ISBN: 9781315645544
Adobe ISBN:


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What is at stake in the struggle for housing rights in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area? In this chapter, we analyze the reality of two new urban occupations in the city, Dandara and Camilo Torres, defined as territorial identities that engage in planned and collective possession of unused, underutilized, or undeveloped urban spaces. As opposed to previously transient occupations, these are permanent and allow dwellers to exercise their rights to housing and to the city. By exploring the differences between new and old urban occupations and the way in which the Brazilian judicial system has ruled regarding conflicts between the right to property and housing rights, we believe it is possible to make the following conclusions: in contrast to the old informal settlements which evolved over time in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area, the new types of urban occupation are characterized by the actions of highly coordinated social movements that, amongst other demands, assert citizens’ right to adequate housing and the exercising of their right to the city. Therefore, this new type of urban occupation constitutes an alternative for deprived people who are excluded from accessing the benefits of the broader city. The historical civil rights struggles involving social movements and civil society in Brazil are based on principles that have been set out in a legal framework expressed in the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, which stipulates that the city must be democratically managed and the social function of property must be fulfilled. This legal framework is a new tool for social rights struggles in Brazil and activism for the right to the city has the potential to generate awareness of rights and social empowerment.

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