Rio de Janeiro: From homeless to home builder | Global Ideas | DW | 02.09.2021

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Rio de Janeiro: From homeless to home builder

In the Brazilian megacity Rio de Janeiro, accommodation is scarce and often unaffordable. A sustainable housing project is tackling the crisis by involving people in building their own homes.

Watch video 07:30

Rio: From homeless to home builder

In 2014, the housing movement Movimento Nacional de Luta pela Moradia (Movement for Housing Struggle), or MNLM, occupied a public plot of land in Rio's Duque de Caxias suburb that had remained undeveloped for decades.

They used the space to launch Solano Trindade, an innovative sustainable housing project, in cooperation with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The project aimed to help address the housing crisis which sees many locals forced to live in precarious accommodation. The future residents helped develop and build the homes, learning valuable skills along the way.

The project aims to build more than 100 housing units and a training center for alternative construction methods, as well as an organic vegetable garden.

Children run through gardens in Brazil

Fruits and vegetables will be grown in a community garden on the expansive grounds

However, funding has stalled because many subsidy programs in Brazil have been cut, leading to a rise in poverty, housing shortages and social inequality. The slums on the outskirts of urban centers are growing steadily and often lack wastewater disposal or garbage collection. Today, Solano Trindade is dependent on donations. 

Project goal: Construction of housing for vulnerable families in Duque de Caxias, Brazil. Housing units will be built using an ecologically holistic approach that will also provide the area with local job opportunities.

Project funding: Initial funding through state subsidies reached €60,000 ($71,100). Crowdfunding, which aims to raise €5,000, is currently underway to finance completion of the first 12 residential units. 

Partner organizations: Primary partner is the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Other partners include the Observatorio das Metropoles, the Technical University of Berlin and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. 

Project duration: Ongoing since its start in 2014.

A film by Bianca Kopsch

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