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Sheltering a nation: the government of affordable housing units in São Paulo

Grant number: 15/01927-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2015
Effective date (End): September 01, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - Public Policies
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Cesar Leão Marques
Grantee:Anthony Boris Boanada Fuchs
Host Institution: Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/07616-7 - CEM - Center for Metropolitan Studies, AP.CEPID


Housing is an interesting, but under-investigated object of study in the social sciences (Henneberry and Parris 2013): on the one hand a house is a home, a shelter and a place of identity and belonging (UNCHS 1996, Paragraph 60). On the other hand, a house is an asset, a safety net, and a venue for investment. Housing possesses an inherent conflict between its economic and social dimensions (Bourdieu 2000); this aspect represents a great challenge to public policies (housing as a marketable good vs. housing as a social right).The proposed research project investigates the more recent changes in the affordable housing policy in Brazil. The theoretical and practical framework will be largely based on the research design of the applicant´s doctoral thesis that combines insights from Economic Sociology (Sociology of Markets and Economy of Conventions) and Political Economy (British Property Development discourse, Urban Informality). Stemming from an academic background in architecture and urban planning, housing provision can be conceived as a technological object embedded in a field of housing provision. A house is thus understood as the physical end product of a specific process that requires several different stakeholders assembling different resources. Resources, stakeholders, and milestones form the analytical categories of the research design and are used to differentiate the supply object what is commonly termed housing market.The goal of the postdoctoral research at USP is to provide a systematic account of the supply of affordable housing in the metropolitan area of São Paulo (or a part of it). The research shall combine, as much as possible, quantitative and qualitative methods: based on data availability, the use of semi-structured interviews will vary and used to establish the provision logic of different housing types. Physical differences in housing projects (size, built-up configuration, amenities, etc.) serve as entry point to investigate different institutional realities. A specific institutional configuration forms a housing supply subsystem. The argument put forward is that each housing subsystem is an answer to a specific supply problem with its own shortcomings and strengths.The advantage of such workflow is that research results may enrich current policy debates by quantifying the role of the government and regulations on housing affordability. Breaking down housing in constituting resources has the advantage of helping to illustrate the cost composition of the supplied residential units/projects. The effects of current and future housing policies will differ greatly depending on the relational share of material, labor, and land costs. Affordable housing requires the active part-taking of the government to impose restrictions to construction activities (curbing negative externalities), stimulate private supply (enable markets to work) and make efficient use of public resources.

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