Social Issues

Brazil’s Lula urges converting empty gov’t buildings into housing

Brasilia, Jul 13 (EFE).- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Thursday that Brazil should transform government-owned buildings currently sitting empty into social housing for the poor.

“The state should feel obliged to make reparation so people have access to a house,” he said at the presidential palace before signing into law a bill to expand the “My House, My Life” housing-subsidy program, created during his earlier 2003-2011 tenure as president.

My House, My Life, like many anti-poverty initiatives launched by Lula and continued by successor Dilma Rousseff, languished from 2019-2023 under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Among the improvements enacted Thursday are provisions making it easier for middle class people to benefit from the program and a reduction in interest rates for participating borrowers.

Lula set a target of subsidizing “more than 2 million housing units” by 2026, the final year of his current term.

In his speech at the signing ceremony, the president pointed to estimates that Brazil needs as many as 7 million additional housing units to accommodate the population as reason to consider re-purposing vacant publicly owned buildings and parcels of land.

“We will have to transform them into housing units,” he said, noting that Brazil’s INSS health insurance and pensions agency has 3,000 properties sitting unused, many of them located in major urban areas.

“Why are they in the hands of the INSS and not distributed among the people?,” he asked rhetorically.

Lula, 77, vowed to bequeath to Brazil’s next president an “economically strong and politically respected” nation that lives up to its constitution. EFE cms/dr

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