By Gabriel Palladini, a master’s student at the University of São Paulo. In his master’s thesis research he adresses the matter of drug addicts in the area of the PPP Casa Paulista, and the use of violence by the São Paulo State against these people.

The PPP Casa Paulista in São Paulo is a public-private partnership that intends to construct 3.600 units of affordable housing in the city’s downtown district. One building has been completed and two more buildings are still under construction. One of them, which is shown on the images below, will be built just a block away from so-called Crackolandia, a corner of intense concentration of users and dealers of the processed form of cocaine, popularly known as crack.

Views of the PPP housing complex under construction in São Paulo

Views of the PPP housing complex under construction in São Paulo

The area has been subject to public interventions for at least twenty years, yet without success. Police actions to demolish buildings occupied by dependents and drug dealers began back in 2005, when the José Serra administration (PSDB) was in office. Several demolitions were done aimed at solving the problem, firstly at Protestantes Street and General Couto Magalhães Street. The actions resulted in the migration of the population to the surroundings of Julio Prestes Square. The so-called fluxo, where tents are pitched and the dealing of crack happens 24 hours a day, now takes place in the quadrilateral of Helvetica Street, Dino Bueno Street, Cleveland Street, and Julio Prestes Square, as can be seen on the map below.

A set of health policies of the most varied types have been implemented over the past decades, yet in recent years governors have abandoned these policies. The area has been of interest to several politicians, especially during election campaigns. With the intention of solving the problem of crack dealing and consumption, in May of this year (2017) two buildings in the area were demolished by the local administration while people were still inside. After the action, the Human Rights Secretary at City Hall resigned, declaring that the action was a “disaster”. After the police action users have started to spread across the city’s downtown.

Mike Davis (1992) discussed the North American case of urban intervention that spread across the globe in the 1990s using cultural equipment as a vector of urban transformation in city centres. According to Davis culture promoted real estate property and therefore became a star of new urban transformations (1992). The São Paulo Concert Hall, which is located in Júlio Prestes Square, can be considered the greatest symbol of cultural interventions in São Paulo in the 1990s. With the promise of transforming the entire area, the opening of the Concert Hall together with other actions sought to cause a multiplier effect of revaluation and boost the real estate activity in the area. After several failed attempts to attract real estate investment to the Luz area through investments in cultural equipment, a new attempt was made to foster a broader transformation in the region. This new approach focuses on population growth, particularly through the construction of social and affordable housing. With the housing project within the PPP Casa Paulista, São Paulo seeks to embark on this strategy and its promise to transform the region of Cracolandia.

In purple: PPP housing complex area; in green: concentration of crack users and dealers (source: Google Earth)

In purple: PPP housing complex area; in green: concentration of crack users and dealers (source: Google Earth)

Bibliography
Davis, M. (1992). City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Vintage Books.

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