Housing Policy and Gentrification: Conflicts and Contradictions in the Inner City of Sao Paulo

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 315
Distributed Paper
Marcia S. HIRATA , Laboratório de Habitação e Assentamentos Humanos - LabHab, Universidade de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Patricia R. SAMORA , Laboratório de Habitação e Assentamentos Humanos - LabHab, Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Brazil
During the last decades, Neil Smith is developing a conceptual framework linking neoliberal urbanism and gentrification. In his works, the increasing role of the state as an agent of the market is underlined. Also, according to Smith, in a context of globalization and financial capital, the gentrification is thoroughly generalized as an urban strategy (Smith, 2002). This paper aims to discussing the concept and the elements of gentrification in cities of emerging economies, using as an empirical case the inner city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Since the nineties, the central area of Sao Paulo is being subject of several urban interventions,  varying from the promotion of new cultural facilities to the redevelopment of several blocks as a key to increase population in the historical neighborhoods. The most recent intervention presented is using the housing policy as an instrument to promote gentrification, by removing several buildings, today occupied by poor families that were once attracted by low rent prices, in order to make room to new developments to address the housing needs of the emerging medium class. The conflicts and contradictions that are arising from these projects are meaningful and give us strong elements to deepen the political terms of the Smith’s concept of gentrification, coloring it with the characteristics of the Brazilian uneven urban development.