Ana Escalante

“The Faces of Exclusion” Competition Winner Announced

The Inter American Development Bank (IADB) recently hosted a video competition called “The Faces of Exclusion.” The purpose of this competition was to expand beyond traditional research techniques in socio-economics; the IADB was particularly looking for documentary films that stimulate reflection on social issues. All IADB member countries were invited to participate.

The winner was announced earlier this month, and is a very compelling video on the Prestes Maia building in S?o Paulo, Brazil, here’s the video:

Prestes Maia, a 22 story abandoned building in deplorable conditions in S?o Paulo was the shelter of roaches and rats. Since 2002, it has been occupied by hundreds of homeless families when they united and formed the Downtown Roofless Movement (Movimento Sem Teto do Centro or MSTC) of S?o Paulo.The government of S?o Paulo and other authorities are pressing for an eviction of the homeless people in Prestes Maia and this is causing intense controversy. Amnesty International says

According to estimates by the UN Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 10,000 people sleep rough on the streets of S?o Paulo. The city has a chronic shortage of housing for low-income families, who are often forced to live in the shanty towns on the outskirts. With the help of local NGOs, these families have begun squatting empty buildings. This has led to a series of violent evictions, carried out by the riot police using batons, CS gas, pepper sprays and rubber bullets. In August 2005, 79 families occupying a five-storey building on Rua Pl?nio Ramos, in the centre of town, were
confronted by riot police. During the eviction, the police ordered all women and small children to leave, and then entered the building and beat several of the men and boys, some as young as 14. This was one of five evictions carried out by the municipal government during 2005, some of which involved riot police and use of excessive force.

The winning video portrays an urban reality in many cities worldwide: people living in informal settlements and lacking formal housing titles. Housing prices are over-inflated in many cities, making it unaffordable for low-income families and forcing them to live in slums or illegal settlements, such as the Prestes Maia building.

There are different initiatives taking place to address this urban problem. Lauren Abendschein, a former staff writer for NextBillion, has a post on an interesting alternative in Sri Lanka. Also, the Acumen Fund has a study on the urban poor and how there is a need for a market in the housing sector for the people living in the BOP.

I found the winning video very persuasive. The filmmaker, Bianca Suyama, really expresses in a clear way, the deep problematic of housing for the urban poor. Congratulations!!

(via iPienso)