Housing poverty in Brazil

Slum rehabilitation & housing projects
  • 2,040 people served in FY18 2,040 people served in FY18
  • 663 volunteers hosted in FY18 663 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: construction, progressive improvements, land tenure Projects: construction, progressive improvements, land tenure

Our work to alleviate poverty in Brazil began in 1992, serving families who suffered tremendous losses due to floods in Belo Horizonte.

Since then, we have developed projects to rehabilitate slums in Brazil across 11 states.

In Brazil, we are currently present in six states with projects that aim to improve the lives of slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paolo and smaller cities – ranging from building new homes, to repairs and improvements, water access and securing land tenure.

Key facts and figures:

  • Capital: Brasilia
  • Proclaimed independence: Sept. 7, 1822
  • Population: 203.4 million people
  • Urbanisation: 84 %
  • Life expectancy: 73.62 years
  • Unemployment rate: 4.9 %
  • Population living below poverty line: 5.1 %

Inequalities and extreme poverty in Brazil

Brazil is the 5th most populous country in the world and has the 9th largest economy, yet it is also among the most unequal countries in the world with most of the wealth concentrated in the South (UN Statistics Division, 2006).

Despite its rapidly growing economy, around 11.8 million people live on less than $1.25 a day and over 60% of these live in the semi-arid North East Region (World Bank, 2009).


Below the line

More than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate housing (World Urban Forum, 2010). The North East State of Pernambuco has the highest housing deficit in Brazil, with 66% of those in need of housing living below the poverty line with no access to normal banking facilities.

A recent survey ranked São Paulo as the world’s 10th most expensive city and Rio de Janeiro as the 12th. New York, North America’s most expensive city, is 32nd, making Brazil the most expensive country in the Americas.

Lack of adequate housing in cities

Brazil has between 6 million and 8 million fewer houses than it needs, which led to a proliferation of slum housing over time, and people earning less than US$1,000 per month account for about 90 percent of this deficit.

The greatest needs are in the northeast and southeast, where many cities are plagued by overcrowding and housing deterioration, which fuels extreme poverty in the country.

Improper conditions

It is estimated that more than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate conditions. Most of these families have an income…

It is estimated that more than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate conditions. Most of these families have an income below the minimum wage of roughly US$300 per month.

According to data from several sources:

26 million people in urban areas lack access to potable water.

14 million do not have trash collection service.

83 million are not connected to sewage systems.

Housing poverty Brazil

How we help fight inequalities in Brazil

We are one of the entities authorised to work in partnership with the government to build new houses for vulnerable families to help relieve the issue of income inequality in Brazil and the huge gap in living standards across the country. Through the Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life) programme, Habitat Brazil is building 1,623 houses in two cities in the state of Pernambuco.

House improvements and slum rehabilitation

bricks construction icon
Through microcredit loans with the support of a technical assistance team, qualified masons and volunteers, mothers and fathers can guarantee a better future for their children and a safe and healthy home where they can study, rest and play.

In Recife, 250 families will benefit from a project called The Future Begins at Home. In São Paulo, 100 families will have their houses improved through the Habitat in the Community project.

Access to decent housing

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Building impact in the sector is one of our global objectives.

We participate in debates and policy discussions for city councils at the national, state and municipal levels. We represent all NGOs and civil society organisations in the National Cities Council — formed by 71 holders representing the most diverse segments of civil society — to help solve the housing deficit.

This will benefit more families living under the poverty line in inadequate houses and help campaign for the rehabilitation of more slums in Brazil.

Access to water & secure land tenure

heart icon construction
In the semi-arid region of Pernambuco, this project aims to improve the quality of life of families and children who live in extreme poverty in Brazil and often have to walk for up to two hours to fetch water for their homes. By repairing and enlarging their roofs and building cisterns for water catchment and storage, hundreds of people have access to safe, usable water.

The land tenure project was set up to reduce urban poverty for women and vulnerable groups in Recife, Pernambuco, by increasing their access to secure land tenure and property rights.

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