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Homeless blame World Cup for high rent in Brazil

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

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uttley123 May 07 2014 at 7:54 PM

It seems they want help, naturally. Gov't help because they coudn't, or wouldn't have enough insurance or whatever to help themselves. Like someone said below me, we have the problem here in the US too. Go live by the Ocean, live in a questionable home that was not designed to be lived in 365 days a year and have it wiped out by natural causes. And.....? No insurance. Sorry, failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. It shouldn't on the Gov't either. Look, it doesn't help that there is much more corruption in Brazil than there is here too, but clearly, these people need to go somewhere else to get away from this. Just make sure they do not come here.....not from an isolationist point of view, but we already have enough burden on us from out Gov't leaders in the form of taxes with nothing to show for it. More people from other countries will only make things far worse for everyone in the long run. Gov't......go away, and flush as you jump in too!!!!!

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1 reply
dusty754 uttley123 May 07 2014 at 8:02 PM

Failure to plan? Really? So please explain how these people would have planned on some arena being built for some moronic sproting event in their area where the landlords would get greedy and raise the rents in order to have those that are attending this event pay for housing during said event. How does one 'plan" for such a thing?

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2 replies
Gayla dusty754 May 07 2014 at 9:54 PM


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slackwarerobert dusty754 May 08 2014 at 4:07 PM

You go to the town hall meetings where they plan the event. If you aren't working you have NO excuse not to attend them. This wasn't a over night thing. They put out bids to all their friends, confiscated the property to build it on, probably a media circus for the ground breaking as well.

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LewTag May 07 2014 at 7:03 PM

World Cup Soccer trumps housing for the poor...makes sense to me...NOT

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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1 reply
nojohnnyno thefacts22 May 07 2014 at 7:00 PM

Nice comment Buford! . I am surprised you can read

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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!

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2 replies
nojohnnyno weikamis May 07 2014 at 6:58 PM

It's Brazil, not Brasil

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1 reply
Gayla byron.munich May 07 2014 at 10:30 PM


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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!

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Barry Pearson May 07 2014 at 6:40 PM

An example of American in less than a decade if things keep going the way they are!...............................God help us.

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1 reply
cchaplik Barry Pearson May 07 2014 at 7:04 PM

It's already going on, it's called gentrification and it's happening in many cities across the US such as NYC, DC and many others. Low income housing is being turned into condos or demolished and condos built but not affordable to the people who were displaced. I've heard about what is going on in Brazil, children being shot in the street by cops. It's disgusting. I fear for these families and what will happen to them.

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