Ocupa Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil

Standing up against eviction. The successful story of the squat Ocupa Mauá in São Paulo between 2007 and 2017, against evictions, Brazil.


Affordable and dignified housing has grown in concern in São Paulo, and Brazil in general. Many people have sought to go to São Paulo to find a job, however, many fail to find jobs, and those who hev jobs do not necessarily make a high enough salary to afford decent housing themselves. It is estimated that São Paulo has a housing deficit of 830.000, an estimated 15.000 people living on the streets, more than 200.000 vacant buildings, and an nemployment rate of 14 % [2]. And, on 2nd on November2017 20.000 homeless Brazilians marched the streets of São Paulo in protest to demand affordable housing in the city [4]. Having trouble finding a place to live, many citizens see squats around the city as solutions to offer them a home, as an alternative to living on the street or in slum tenements, locally known as ‘cortiços’.

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Basic Data
NameOcupa Mauá, São Paulo, Brazil
ProvinceSão Paulo
SiteSão Paulo
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesHousing
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOcupa Mauá in the centre of São Paulo used to be called the Hotel Santos Dumont. The building was abandoned after the hotel closed in the 1980s – now many families live precariously in the building

When the Santos Dumont hotel was first taken over on the 25 March 2007, there were very few organised squats in South America’s biggest city. But recession, inequality and increasing political polarisation have turned the occupation movement into one of the most dynamic forces in the country. There are now about 80 organised squats in the city centre and its environs, including high-rise communities and centres of radical art. The periphery is home to many more, such as the giant “Povos Sem Medo” (People Without Fear) cluster of 8,000 tents in the São Bernardo do Campo district.

In the surrounding blocks to the Santos Dumont hotel, 237 low-income families talk, cook, clean, watch TV, shop, practice capoeira, study literacy, sleep and go about their daily lives in Brazil’s most famous illegal squat. This is the Mauá Occupation, a trailblazer for an increasingly organised fair-housing movement that has reignited debate about whether urban development should aim at gentrification or helping the growing ranks of people forced to live on the street and in the periphery. (The Guardian, 27 nov 2017).
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population1300
Start Date25/03/2007
End Date22/11/2017
Relevant government actors- São Paulo City Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Ocupa Mauá

- Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD): https://cafod.org.uk/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNegotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Application of existing regulations
Evictions avoided
Development of AlternativesAcquisition of the building complex. Purchased by the city, and devoted to social housing for low-income families and people.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.No evictions were carried out. However, gentrification processes are still highly active in the São Paulo city centre. Suspending the evictions was a victory in the short term, but these processes, as well as changing city governments, may pose a threat to the Ocupa Mauá in the long run.
Sources and Materials

[3] Paterniani, S.Z. (2018). Resisting, Claiming and Prefiguring: Movements for Dignified Housing in São Paulo. Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy, vol. 7 (2), p. 173-187.
[click to view]


[1] Driven by poverty, squatters occupied a derelict São Paulo hotel. Now they face eviction
[click to view]

[2] 20,000 Homeless Brazilians Marched 20 KM to Demand Affordable Housing in Sao Paulo
[click to view]

[4] Resistance! São Paulo's homeless seize the city
[click to view]

[5] Inside Crackland: the open-air drug market that São Paulo just can’t kick
[click to view]

[6] Community in São Paulo faces eviction
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[7] Victory for families in Brazil as eviction is cancelled
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Media Links

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Other Documents

Source: Flavio Forner for The Guardian
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Meta Information
ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update13/10/2018