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Opinion, by Anna Kaiser

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Minha Casa Minha Vida, Brazil’s flagship public housing program, attempts to provide housing to mid-low income Brazilians. While the goal of the program is admirable, in practice this endeavor seems to be doomed by a system of corruption, inefficiency and bureaucracy.

With a R$72 billion (US$36 billion) being pumped into it and the promise of 2 million housing units by 2014, ex-president Lula da Silva, current president Dilma Rousseff, and the Federal Government certainly deserve credit for taking a step in the right direction – recognizing that affordable housing, especially in modern-day Brazil, where more and more people are having to move to large cities to find decent-waged work, is an essential investment for Brazilian society.

However, in the case of Rio de Janeiro, two major flaws hinder the success of Minha Casa Minha Vida: poor quality and disregard for location.

While the number R$72 billion is impressively large indeed, one can’t help but call into question where all that money is going when numerous Minha Casa Minha Vida projects have been built with such poor quality that they are uninhabitable or in some cases have fallen apart before they’re even finished, and after already receiving millions of reais in investment, as was the case with the Zilda Arns II Housing Complex in Niterói.

Furthermore, the program has chosen to construct most of the MCMV neighborhoods in Rio’s outer West Zone, due to the excess of cheap land. At the expense of MCMV beneficiaries, construction companies on contract with MCMV are able to turn a larger profit by constructing with poor materials on remote land. The far West Zone is between a two and three hour commute to Rio’s downtown, where seventy percent of the cities residents travel through every day.

Minha Casa Minha Vida is the program that builds the public housing that communities are being displaced to – due to favela upgrading and mega event related infrastructure projects.

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