Being Houseless in the Global South

An Update on Fortaleza, Brazil

Stéfany Grayce Teixeira Barbosa, Lara Aguiar Cunha, Guilhermo Ribeiro Mastroianni, and Canto

Published in Issue 4.1 // Updates

Keywords: Houselessness, pandemic, criminalization, segregation, Fortaleza


This update aims to provide a critical account of houselessness through the last decade in Brazil—a country of the global south which is currently under a destabilized democracy state—and, more specifically, in the gravely unequal city of Fortaleza, located in the northeast of Brazil. Through the analysis of reports, news, official declarations and decrees, alongside the conduction of interviews, an investigation is carried out to understand how the people experiencing houselessness in Fortaleza interact with the state, the third sector and each other. The update reveals, therefore, planning practices that systematically structure the exclusion, the invisibility and the potential criminalization of houseless people by public agencies and the private sector—especially during the COVID-19 health crisis—while it also sheds light on the strength of the social movements and civil organizations that seek effective and emancipatory actions towards overcoming houselesssness.

Stéfany Grayce Teixeira Barbosa, Lara Aguiar Cunha and Guilhermo Ribeiro Mastroianni are undergraduate students of Architecture and Urbanism at UFC, Brazil. They actively engage in participatory planning and design practices through extension and research work at Canto and other university programs. Canto is a UFC extension project of social architecture and urbanism, established in 2010. Through the development and implementation of horizontal and participatory methodologies of planning, design and intervention, Canto provides free technical advisory to collective urban demands in the state of Ceará, Brazil.

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