Residents pour water from their houses as they try to extinguish a fire at Paraisopolis slum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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Behind a heavy metal gate and walls painted with murals of revolutionary icon Che Guevara, stands a farmhouse occupied by Brazilian squatters as part of a movement to turn abandoned buildings into affordable housing.With operations run from the farmhouse, the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) is one of Brazil's most influential housing rights organizations, with around 50,000 members coordinating more than 30 occupations across S?o Paulo. Their strategy is straightforward: occupy abandoned buildings and underused land to pressure the government to negotiate and eventually build affordable housing for squatters.The farmhouse turned campaign headquarters in Tabo?o da Serra, a gritty suburb 20 km west of central S?o Paulo, was once one of those abandoned buildings.In greater S?o Paulo alone, a megacity of 20 million people, there are about 1.2 million abandoned homes – more than enough to help residents who don't have a decent place to live, said Alfonso.In large cities like S?o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, more than 20 percent of the population live in favelas, according to government data.The government is planning to build another affordable housing complex for hundreds of residents close to da Silva's apartment block, Figueiredo said.
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