Favelas in São Paulo

Favelas in São Paulo

Like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo too faces the problem of having a large population living in favelas. A term referring to squatter settlements or shanty towns in the city, favelas in São Paulo has been steadily growing year after year. To date, there are already more than a million people living in São Paulo favelas, making up 5% of the city’s total population.


Among São Paulo’s top favelas are in Paraisópolis with a population of about 100,000 people, Morumbi, and Prestes Maia.


To better understand and get a picture of what São Paulo favelas are, here are its characteristics:


  • Favelas are characterized by illegal occupation of lands in the city. These lands are mostly public areas.

  • Mostly problematic areas, favelas are usually located on riverbanks or along roads with high traffic.

  • There is an absent on basic utilities like water, electricity, and wastewater.

  • There is no fixed stairways or alleys.

  • Having not enough space for recreation.

  • Absence of public and social facilities such as schools, kindergartens, or health service facilities.

  • Densely populated.

  • Location of houses are on areas with high risk (e.g. prone to erosion, floods, and contamination).

  • High crime rate, low employment rate.


Government Policies and Projects


During the 1970s, São Paulo favelas did not get much attention as far as public policies are concerned. Primarily, this is due to the fact the many aspiring politicians in the city saw them as a means to draw votes. In the 1990s, the city has come up with a program (for the first time) that caters to the needs of favelas. For the first two years of the program, 41,000 families have already benefitted. With an existence of 10 years, a whooping US$322 million was invested for the program.


In recent years, several action plans were implemented in São Paulo to address the needs of the favelanos (people living in favelas are called). A particular action plan in the city targets to reach 52,000 favelanos in three years through legalization of tenure and upgrading of favelanos. Networking of social programmes in the city was also strengthened to assuage the situation of the people in favelas.


Despite the programmes and policies initiated by the government of São Paulo, driving away favelas in the city is already next to impossible as this setting comes with São Paulo’s growth. As long as the city continues to develop and improve, more and more people would still come and flock the city’s favelas.