Housing Provision through Real Estate Development: Adopting Public-Private Partnerships for Affordable Housing Delivery in Brazil

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation analyzes contemporary transformations in urban policy and space production in Brazil; in particular, those associated with state efforts to attract the private sector to participate in the design, finance, development and long-term management of infrastructure and housing provision systems. While the study's focus is on adoption of the public-private partnership (PPP) mechanism in the affordable housing sector, empirical research is based on the case study analysis of Casa Paulista Program, the first PPP for affordable housing delivery in the country, sponsored by the State Government of São Paulo and implemented in the central districts of the city of São Paulo, the state's capital. Specific questions driving the research are twofold: in the first, I ask what were the characteristics of the Casa Paulista PPP model, and in the second, how public and private agents, including social groups, affected the evolution of the model. Permeating this analysis is the concern as to how housing provision through PPPs may affect the ability of local populations to access adequate housing and fully participate in city living, as demanded by social housing movements and urban reform advocates and predicted in Brazil's Federal Constitution, and rights-based urban policy at national and local levels. Findings indicate that the Casa Paulista model, while neither leveraging private capital nor scaling up housing production, facilitates rearrangements in the private local housing market, urban policy, and social relationships around housing provision. These efforts are successful only with support of the development and finance industries operating beyond the local scale. I argue that these new rearrangements support a publicly funded, privately managed model to support predominantly residential real estate development projects of large scale and which are debt financed through long term agreements. This dynamic generates risk to society's ability to control urban transformation in the central city area and support preservation of a stock of public and private land where affordable housing development is currently prioritized, an outcome I describe as 'privatizing planning and socializing risk'.



affordable housing, public-private partnership, financialization, right to the city, real estate