Diadema Reurbanization

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

Diadema, near São Paulo, is an industrial city with close to 400,000 residents that has successfully upgraded—or, in the words of former mayor José de Filippi Jr., “reurbanized”—its informal settlements. Filippi points out that favelas have already been urbanized. “The slums are urbanism without urbanists,” he observes, paraphrasing Bernard Rudofsky. In the early 1980s, three out of ten Diadema residents lived in favelas, and by the 1990s, homicides had increased 49% from previous years. Efforts to reduce these figures focused on social and physical inclusion through participatory budgeting and planning. The community helped determine priorities for the annual budget, “distributing resources in a democratic way,” notes Filippi. The community also had a voice in reurbanization meetings with architects, engineers, and social workers from the Housing Secretariat, suggesting upgrades and approving projects on work, part of which was performed by community members themselves.

As a result, a municipal land-tenure program, the first of its kind in Brazil, was established in 1985 to grant favela residents located on public land a “right to use” the land for 90 years, encouraging improvements in homes and neighborhoods. Households located in unsafe locations were cooperatively relocated into new housing built in partnership with the municipality. Residents widened and paved narrow streets and built clean water and sanitation access to the neighborhoods. State-of-the-art hospitals such as the Quarteirão da Saúde, completed in 2008, provide quality healthcare to the city’s poorest residents, and community health agents deliver aid to the most vulnerable residents. Today, only 3% of Diadema’s residents live in favelas, and the homicide rate has dramatically dropped from 140 to 14.3 people killed per 100,000.

Housing Secretaries: Márcio Luiz Vale, Josemundo Dario Queiroz, Jorge Hereda, Mario Wilson Pedreira Reali, Lício Gozanga Lobo Júnior, João Alberto Zocchio, Amir Khair; for mayors Mario Reali, José de Filippi Jr., Gilson Menezes, José Augusto Silva Ramos; with Diadema informal settlement community. Diadema, Brazil, 1983–present
Download publication (English and Portuguese versions): Diadema and the Informal City



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