SAO PAULO (AP) — Sao Paulo's Housing Department estimates this city of more than 11 million people is short of adequate homes for at least 230,000 families. As a result, thousands of people are living in abandoned buildings downtown or in tents and flimsy shacks put up on any empty plot of land they can find.
Maria de Moraes, a 58-year-old widow, is one of 300 squatters who've fashioned tiny apartments in an old 12-story building once occupied by offices on a busy pedestrian street just a block from the chic Municipal Theater.
"This was my only option," said Moraes, whose 65-square-foot (6-square-meter) room is almost filled by a double bed with multicolored bedspread, a chest of drawers and a single chair. "I was paying about 600 reals ($260) a month for a small room on the outskirts and earning about the same in social security payments. ... I had nothing left over for food or medicine and would always have to ask neighbors for help."
She has to share a communal bathroom and kitchen with fellow squatters, but she does not pay rent. About 700 people seized a hill next to the posh Morumbi neighborhood in late October, and set up tents in neat rows. They hope authorities will expropriate the land for housing.
"Rats and cockroaches have always occupied this land and now it is our turn," said one of squatters, who would give only his first name, Leandro. Here's a collection of photos showing the how some of these people are fending for themselves with makeshift housing.
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