Minister of Cities Bruno Araújo announced last week that the federal government will resume construction of social housing through the Minha Casa Minha Vida (MCMV) program in August. The program was temporarily suspended following President Dilma Rousseff’s removal in May but had already been paralyzed since mid-2015 due to a lack of public funds.
Araújo said construction would proceed for units within the band 1.5 of the program which is destined to families with a monthly income between R$1,800 and R$2350, amounting to 50,100 units at a cost of R$1.2 billion, suggesting that the projects could be finished by the end of the year.
The Minha Casa Minha Vida program is the largest public housing program in Brazilian history, initiated by President Lula and expanded by President Rousseff. The program’s strong affiliation with the Workers’ Party (PT) led it to be a constant target by opposition parties, subsequently suffering debilitating suspensions and budget cuts in the first twelve hours of interim President Michel Temer’s administration.
Popular support of the program appears to have shaken these initial actions, as the administration announced in June the resumption of 4,200 paralyzed units under band 1, destined for families with a monthly income up to R$1,800. Both of these recent announcements suggest that while many of the ministerial changes represent a stark departure from PT policy priorities, the elimination of high-profile social programs may further throw into question the legitimacy of this interim administration.
“Minha Casa Minha Vida needs to be saved because the removed government left the program with less than half of the required resources in 2015. Our mission is to save the program. And how will we save it? With diligence in the administration, changing what needs to be changed to improve efficiency, ensuring the resumption of unfinished projects, normalizing band 2 and 3 of the program, and relaunching band 1.5 with 40,000 units this year,” Araújo said in a press conference last week.
The program divides qualified families into four income brackets, placing families with monthly incomes less than R$1,800 into band 1, up to R$2,350 in band 1.5, up to R$3,600 in band 2, and up to R$6,500 in band 3. The planned units will therefore target lower-income families.
Araújo also announced that the administration will prioritize families with children suffering from microcephaly for placement in Minha Casa Minha Vida housing units. Interim President Temer added in a statement, “It is a very important detail to privilege these mothers of children with microcephaly because we can see that the majority of them live in impoverished conditions.”