Karine Alcântara Silveira, 41 and a stay at home mother, has lived with her son Fernando, 15, since December in a canvas tent in the Penha Brasil favela. The housing occupation arose that same month in Vila Dionísia, district of Cachoeirinha, in the north of São Paulo.
Before that, the money Karine received from the City of São Paulo paid the rent on a house, but the aid was interrupted. Affected by the pandemic with the loss of income and unable to pay rent, residents had to look for a place in a favela or join a group to occupy idle land in the cities.
Estimates from the Observatório das Remoções point to at least five new squatter communities that have emerged in the metropolitan region during the pandemic with these characteristics.
In these new communities, people gather in small rooms, built with pieces of wood collected from the garbage or in shops, in addition to cardboard and other materials used to demarcate each one's home. Water and electricity services do not usually serve these locations. For this, they count on the help of neighbors and family.
Larissa Lacerda, a researcher at LabCidade, sees difficulties in mapping demand and new squatter locations due to lack of data. "Research such as the Census, carried out by the IBGE and canceled this year by the federal government, could offer us this data or something similar," she says.
Occupations can be formed and removed in very short time periods, she points out, and sometimes not even researchers in the field are aware of it.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon