The homeless and the struggle to exist

Keywords: occupation, Brazil, education, community, revolution

Here Welita Caetano, an organizer with the Front for Struggle for Housing (FLM) in São Paulo, Brazil, writes about her own experiences as a homeless person, as a leader of the housing movement, as a popular educator, and as a municipal housing counselor. As she explains, occupations for housing justice are small revolutions and means of building relationships and community.

Welita is a labor scientist trained in Management and Law, and is the leader of the Frente de Luta por Moradia (FLM) in São Paulo, Brazil, for which she coordinates seven different squatted buildings in the central city. Welita works to disseminate the need for urban reform and the right to the city. Of the more than 400,000 empty buildings in São Paulo, almost 20,000 are in the central city, although the area has lost 20 percent of its population in the last ten years. The squatting of empty buildings in the central city is seen by the FLM as the best way to make visible the need to house homeless families in empty property. Some leaders of the FLM have been recently arrested or threatened with arrest, in the effort of the local authorities to criminalize the struggle for housing.

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