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Co-operative Housing Upgrade Lab - wrap up

Brazilian Co-operative Housing Upgrade Lab - wrap up
IFHP, together with partners and the IFHP Latin American field office based at PURCS in Porto Alegré, conducted a co-operative housing upgrade lab in October 2015. Here is a wrap up of the learnings and debates which took place. You can also download the presentations. 
Co-operative for informal housing upgrade: the first platform of important stakeholders is set up
The challenge is to produce and upgrade million homes, breaking paradigms and building cities”, 
Alessandra d’Avila, Ministry of Cities.
If the slums were a state, it would be the fifth most populous of the federation, able to move 63 billion reais each year.”
Um pais chamado favela,
Celso Athayde, Renato Meirelles (2014) 
On the 23rd of October the first 1 day seminar of the Co-operative for informal housing upgrade took place in PoA, Brazil. The different stakeholders gave rise to the discussion among the thirty participants about the role co-operatives could play in the process of regularization and legalization of informal settlements in Brazil has involved representatives from the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, WorldBank, UNHABITAT, Community leaders, architects and lawyers with expertise in land regularization, PoA housing planning department DEMHAB - department for Co-operatives and the students of the FAU-PUCRS - Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. 
Housing policies of Porto Alegre have paved the way to this approach and acknowledged the potential fo co-operatives. The results are still modest, however there is the start of recognising the co-operative as a socio-economic model able to build social well-being and community’s engagement, safeguarding the public interest and democratic decision–easing the processes for land acquisition and regularization. Yet, it demonstrates how gathering into a co-operative favours empowerment of a community and clarifies their position under the legal aspect, allowing the municipality to approach the process from a different perspective.
Policies of regularization exist in large scale. However, locally, an inability emerges to act effectively and fast and move on to implementation phases of the projects. 
The federal programme PAC is the principal national planning and financial instrument that allows the local levels to take action in the regularization process of informal settlements but, besides announced financial cuts in the PAC budget in 2016, the national supportive programmes also require local competencies and urban strategies to use it effectively. 
Specifically talking about cooperatives, even in Porto Alegre as the only Brazilian city equipped for institutionalised cooperatives for new housing production and for slum upgrading, there are 6 on going projects successfully running. However it still faces problems of communication and capacity building, both on the municipality and communities’ sides. There is not enough visibility offered of the possibility communities have to form cooperatives and jump into the system of regularization. In this context bottlenecks are slowing down the potential of the cooperative as a tool for regularization and informal settlements upgrade. 
How to create options for cooperatives for slum improvement becoming integrated in the broader housing and planning system? National programmes and local legal frameworks should complement each other and work in symbiosis on a tri-dimensional scale: legal aspects, financing and technical capacity. 
Definitely the discussion about cooperatives as an instrument to “produce” legal housing has been welcomed as trailblazing at national level, while highlighting the necessity to improve the current approaches like the one of Porto Alegre: “There is a need to innovate and encourage a cultural change towards collective responsibility and engage various actors in ensuring the Brazilian’s future housing provision”. But what are the vectors of this change? 
More applied research needs to be developed in order to answer question as the ones raised during the panel discussion:
could co-operatives be an interesting format in the framework of MCMV entidades category? But for existing housing upgrade?

what kind of informal settlements could benefit  best from such an approach?
how could communication between communities and Municipalities be improved?
how could the ministry of city influence municipalities to develop an law facilitating/promoting co-ops for up-grade of informal housing areas ?
how could the legal status of a co-operative facilitate setting up a suitable business model of the whole process?
All the stakeholders attending have expressed high interest and commitment to engage in this exploration. At the same time the Director of the FAU- faculty of Architecture and Urbanism- at PUCRS is already forming an official Research Group registered at CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa - Federal Government). The issue at stake confirmed to be extremely relevant within informal housing upgrade and deserves a proactive follow up in the coming months. Meanwhile the first platform of important stakeholders is set up.
Please check the photo album on Facebook
The outcomes of the Lab will be showcased on the 12th of November at the IFHP Summit in Berlin! A special thanks to our partners SPcitI, IFHP Latin American Field Office and Núcleo de Estudos da Cidade - NESC FAU PUCRS
PAC-Urbanização de assentamentos precários, Alessandra dÁvíla Vieira, Director PAC/UAP Urbanização de Assentamentos Precários, Ministry of Cities
Cooperativisme in Porto Alegre, Housing department, Porto Alegre Municipality – not available yet 
Introduction to the Lab, IFHP, FAU-PUCRS, SPcitI
We will keep you updated!