By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s housing plan, Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My Home, My Life) is entering its second phase, and aims to build 2,000,000 homes before 2014 for low income families. “Launching this new phase marks a special moment,” President Dilma Rousseff said. “Building a house is much more than construction work. It is building a dream because a home is the space where relationships are built, children are raised and family ties are established. (A home is) shelter, protection and security.”
The federal government will invest R$140 billion (US$87.5 billion) in the second phase of the housing program, Dilma explained. There are two new elements included in this phase. First, women will no longer need the signature of their husband to sign up for the housing plan and second, all houses will use solar panels for energy.
“This way we can also help families save a lot of money on their electrical bills,” Rousseff said at her weekly radio talk show Café Com A Presidenta. What stays the same is that low-income families – with salaries up to R$1,600 (US$1,000) – three times the minimum wage, will only have to pay a maximum percentage of 10 percent on their mortgage, for a fixed period of ten years.
Brazilian real estate seems an undoubtedly good investment, and with the forthcoming sporting events, prices for property in Brazil are expected to only get higher.
Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília dominate the rankings of most expensive real estate in Brazil. The 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games are also pushing property prices higher, while the demand for houses – at all social levels – is also much bigger.
With the international sport events in sight, the government of Rio has devoted itself to a large scale urbanization, which includes the forced relocation of thousands of people from communities in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) and around the Maracanã stadium at the Zona Norte (North Zone).
While changes are applauded, human rights groups – such as Amnesty International – have also voiced their concerns about the fairness of the process surrounding the forced evictions. There have also been reports that some new apartment complexes are under the control of militias or that militia members forced families out of their new homes and illegally put their homes on the market for sale.
With all the big changes and need for real estate in mind, it is no surprise that from all Brazilian cities, Rio de Janeiro has had the highest production of properties during the first phase of Minha Casa, Minha Vida. It has been reported that Rio has built 12,450 homes so far.
Rio mayor Eduardo Paes said in a speech at the Minha Casa, Minha Vida launch: “Rio has made an effort to buy land where there is infrastructure, asphalt and light to ensure a better quality of life for the population and to avoid the unorganized occupation of land,” he said.