The role of Black women in urban housing struggles in Brazil:
From land occupations to the institutional policy
Thalles Vichiato Breda
Keywords: Housing policy, homeless movements, land occupations, intersectionality, Latin America, Brazil
In recent years, housing movements and their activists have gained more prominence as housing has become increasingly unaffordable. In Brazil, land occupations, a tool for housing access, are mainly composed of Black women—the most vulnerable societal group. Black women have developed a vital role in the housing struggle, being responsible for the occupations’ management and their victories. Still, they are invisible to part of society and to some scholars. This article analyzes the role of Black women in land occupations organized by the MTST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto—Homeless Workers Movement). It discusses how they became activists, accessed leadership positions, and more recently, how they push to access positions in institutional and party politics. The research is based on ethnographic field work in an MTST occupation in São Carlos during 2018 and 2021 and analyses of the movement and its leaders’ social media profiles.