On Thursday, July 9, 2015, a meeting to debate a Social Rental program completed a series of public consultations to elaborate the Plano de Habitação de Interesse Social do Porto Maravilha (Wonderful Port Social Housing Plan), PHIS-Porto.

The four meetings that crowded the auditorium of Companhia de Desenvolvimento Urbano da Região do Porto do Rio de Janeiro (Company of Urban Development of the Port Region of Rio de Janeiro) - CDURP with over 250 participants, on average, - most of them residents of the region and 25 community and academic organizations - were very enriching. Besides technical aspects and political orientation parameters to define PHIS-Porto, the process enabled reunions between representatives of the City Hall of Rio and residents of Morro da Conceição, Chiquinha Gonzaga Occupation and Morro da Providência to discuss specific demands of each group, as part of actions of the Porto Maravilha (Wonderful Port) plan.

As proposed, there will be a public conference before submitting the plan to the Management Council of Municipal Funds for Social Housing of the Municipality. Hence, there may be an adjustment in the initially presented schedule, which is reasonable in this case. 

In this last meeting, the issue of the Social Rental program received valuable contribution from the Metropolis Observatory of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) that presented a brief account about such kind of program in European countries (see presentation). The character and importance of these programs as housing policy added a lot to the discussion regarding the Port Region of Rio. Different from Brazilian practice, the population described in the study, especially low, but also middle income, is entitled to housing through rental and not ownership of the real state.

The preliminary proposition presented to the City Hall of Rio is quite in line with guidelines and recommendations from the Observatory (see presentation). At this moment, an opportunity is created to introduce public policy with great potential to contribute to the increase of access to housing, particularly in central regions of medium and large Brazilian cities. The Social Rental approach may become the great innovation of PHIS - Wonderful Port.

During seminars, the level of participation was considerably high, with relevant contributions, a characteristic of the implementation of Wonderful Port. The constant dialogue with the population, regarding conceptual aspects as well as concrete demands, helps to enhance and correct practices, and even prevents eventual mistakes. Mitigating trouble during infrastructure and urbanization works is a daily effort. Also, the Porto Maravilha Cidadão (Wonderful Port Citizen) program is dedicated to professional qualification, including residents in the job market and supporting mini and small businesses of the region. Workers and entrepreneurs should be the protagonists in the new economic dynamics that is being formed in the area.

Residents and institutional representatives criticized and presented their concerns and suggestions regarding the plan. They focused not only on the issue of housing, but also on related aspects, such as urban mobility and access to public services. Contributions are fundamental to the construction of a plan with realistic goals and deadlines.

Now, the PHIS-Porto Work Group is moving forward to the stage of systematizing and elaborating the document, taking into account contributions received during this period. Diagnosis is being concluded. Action plans for each one of the programs began to be detailed and considered, in order to estimate costs and find appropriate funding sources. The main task is to advance with the land survey that will enable to point goals to housing production in the area.

The first complete version of the plan should be presented in the coming weeks. Then, the document will follow to public conference and subsequent submission to the Management Council of Municipal Funds for Social Housing. As a fundamental part of the Operação Urbana Porto Maravilha (Wonderful Port Urban Operation), the concrete actions of the plan will also contribute to stimulate residential occupation of the whole Downtown of Rio de Janeiro.

Alberto Gomes Silva, president of Cdurp, july 2015