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Homeless blame World Cup for high rent in Brazil



By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON
Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Thousands of impoverished Brazilians are living illegally on land near the World Cup stadium where the opening match will be played next month, blaming the arena's construction for rent increases that drove them out of their homes.

Braving insects, little food and a lack of privacy, the families seized a field nestled in the green hills of eastern Sao Paulo forming a village 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) away from the stadium built for the sports' biggest tournament.

The new residents have shoveled dirt, hammered wooden stakes into the ground and fastened tarps and plastic bags to makeshift frames to improvise a tent city. The still-under-construction Itaquerao stadium hovers like a flying saucer on the horizon, just beyond a wall of trees.

The approximately 5,000 people who invaded this private property say rising rents are a result of World Cup real-estate fever in the neighborhood around the stadium.

But the occupation has come to symbolize Brazil's persistent income disparity and the frustration that the country's poor feel as the government focuses its spending on world-class arenas rather than providing more affordable housing and improving woeful schools, hospitals and other public works.

"We are not against the World Cup," insisted Rita de Cassia, a 35-year-old nurse who says her landlord doubled the rent on her one-bedroom house nearby, driving her family out of their home. "We are against how they are trying to belittle us. They are giving priority to soccer and forgetting about the families, about the Brazilian people."

The mother of three says her cabinetmaker husband is unemployed and they are living off her $350 monthly salary, which she had used to pay about $110 a month in rent.

But their landlord notified them earlier this year that the rent on their home in the Itaquera neighborhood was being raised to $220.

"We just don't have that kind of money," she said. "We wouldn't have clothes. We wouldn't have food."

She joined the thousands of others organized by a group called the Homeless Workers Movement, which has been helping the families set up the tents.

Robson Goncalves, one of the movement's leaders overseeing the occupation dubbed "The People's Cup," says he doesn't know who owns the land that measures about 37 acres (150,000 square meters). He said it has been abandoned for two decades, and noted that no one has claimed it since the families began squatting on it last weekend.

"Ever since they started building that stadium, property owners started overselling. This area is really becoming affordable only to the upper class," Goncalves said.

The leader said the government should redistribute the property for subsidized housing and cited a federal program that has built hundreds of thousands of houses for families eligible for low-interest rate mortgages.

Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad has told local media he's studying how to register the land so the families could move there legally. But critics say other people are already waiting for a government funded house or apartment in Sao Paulo, which has a housing deficit of 230,000 homes.

Homeless Brazilians Blame World Cup For Rising Rents

Some experts question whether the World Cup is really to blame for rising rents near the stadium.

Pedro Taddei Neto, an architect and urban planning expert from the University of Sao Paulo, said the World Cup hype won't leave a lasting impact on real-estate prices.

He said rent increases in Itaquera reflect speculation about future development in the industrial suburb and may be related to a nationwide real estate boom and inflation in Latin America's biggest economy.

"Of course, there's a lot of speculation. It's inevitable. The World Cup is around the corner and it worries these people," he said. "Once the World Cup is over, we will go back to reality."

Meanwhile, those in the squatter village try to get on their uprooted lives.

On a recent day, a boy pushed his friend in a wheelbarrow, while a little girl hugged her mother's thigh as strangers passed. One woman dried her hair with a towel after taking a shower at the communal bathroom while another cooked the last of the 60 kilos (132 pounds) of rice she prepared for the residents that day.

"The government might want to treat us like we are anarchists, disruptive, but we are families," said De Cassia. "You think that I want to have a girl as little as mine in the streets? No. I just deserve my rights."

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
jojo May 07 2014 at 7:50 PM

they need help

Flag Reply +1 rate up
aristeph May 07 2014 at 7:02 PM

BOYCOTT THE WORLD CUP

Flag Reply +3 rate up
santiagoestatesvista May 07 2014 at 6:59 PM

The Olympics needs to come up with 1 spot. These countries can do a lot better with their money. This is a shame.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bigdog May 07 2014 at 6:54 PM

A nurse who cant afford to house her family? There but for the grace of God go you and .

Flag Reply +4 rate up
thefacts22 May 07 2014 at 6:46 PM

Don't forget that the lady in charge is from the old communist guard. Equality....for the ones in government.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Diana Neal May 07 2014 at 6:44 PM

Please note, this was a nurse who was displaced with her family. It could be you, so be emphathetic!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
nogopea Diana Neal May 07 2014 at 7:12 PM

Cons have no empathy nor do they have compassion.Only if it happens to THEM.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
thefacts22 May 07 2014 at 6:43 PM

Don't worry, we want equality, so we will also have that problem that is; when they come to see the parade with Obama's militia.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
Dan thefacts22 May 07 2014 at 6:47 PM

Is the militia hiring? I really need a job.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
nojohnnyno thefacts22 May 07 2014 at 7:00 PM

Nice comment Buford! . I am surprised you can read

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Dan May 07 2014 at 6:43 PM

Gayla is a racist. I'm Brazilian and she called me lazy.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Gayla Dan May 07 2014 at 10:26 PM

Read it again , Bud, I never said anyone was lazy.......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
weikamis May 07 2014 at 6:42 PM

Before all of you non-informational commentors start making statements that you know nothing about, you should research the severity of what is happening here in Brasil. This is horrible. And guess what? If you would check it out about years ago, you would find that the poor people in Brasil were being shot by the police and poor children were being harmed also to clean up the streets to give a good impression to the tourists visiting the major citiies. During the 70's and 80's when visiting I was devastated by what was happening to those living in poverty by their own government!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
nojohnnyno weikamis May 07 2014 at 6:58 PM

It's Brazil, not Brasil

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
pbpied nojohnnyno May 07 2014 at 7:11 PM

Says the man who lives anywhere but Brasil.... as it is called by the people who actually live there.

Flag +2 rate up
weikamis nojohnnyno May 07 2014 at 7:37 PM

nojohnnyno, you must be another one of those "non-informationals!" FYI, the word BRASIL is PORTUGUESE the language spoken in BRASIL.

Flag +1 rate up
byron.munich weikamis May 07 2014 at 8:51 PM

This is what happens when you give too much power to the government. I've lived in many countries in latin america and this is what ALWAYS happens. The country has problem so they vote for more government. More government leads to corruption. All of the sudden, you have one supreme controller of the people. Then what happens is the government begins to oppress dissent with it's police force. This has been in Brazil now for sometime. This what happens when you get socialist policies in any country. The super rich control the super poor, there is very little middle class.

Brazil has a beautiful people, with great culture and history. It also a country with vast resources and yet it is heavily impoverished.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Gayla byron.munich May 07 2014 at 10:30 PM

BYRON- THE SAME THING IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA, IT JUST NEEDS MORE TIME.

Flag 0 rate up
crowland503 May 07 2014 at 6:42 PM

I heard that when they built Disney World, if true, Florida's property taxes drove many people out of their homes and off their land due to the sky high increase!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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