Published: 2020

/ Student Work

Self-Management Law, Now! Fostering Community-Owned, Permanently Affordable and Sustainable Housing in Brazil


Brazil is experiencing a severe housing crisis, with extremely low-income households shouldering 84% of the housing deficit. In response, our client-partners, the National Union for Popular Housing (UNMP), the Union of Housing Movements of São Paulo (UMM-SP), and the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST-Leste 1), propose an alternative method of housing development: autogestão (self-managed) housing. This method of housing production is democratically produced and governed through practices of mutual aid. Our partners have built over 30,000 high quality, affordable housing units via autogestão, but shifting public administrations often translates to unstable funding streams and support for self-management. Thus, UNMP drafted a bill that outlines a new legal framework for autogestão housing in Brazil.

The capstone team developed a national educational and advocacy campaign for the self-management draft bill. The advocacy toolkit includes a mini-documentary, an interactive mapping platform, case studies, and educational flyers, all hosted on the fully branded, user-friendly website: Autogestão, Já! In order to strengthen the collective property section of the bill, the team provided recommendations via a memorandum. Finally, capstone students assisted UMM-SP and MST-Leste 1 in their efforts to promote environmental stewardship in existing housing developments subjected to strict environmental regulations. The resulting Environmental Engagement Suite includes educational materials to guide residents on environmental laws. These strategies are based on fieldwork, the team visited 12 housing sites, met with residents and leaders of the movements, conducted a participatory workshop, interviewed experts, and documented the autogestão housing development process.


Alex Abramowitz (MURP 2020) David Baker (MURP 2020) Josh Childs (MURP/MPP 2020) Meagan Gibeson (MURP 2020) Jacob Hite (MURP 2020) Kimberly Higgins (MURP 2020) Neetu Nair (MURP 2020) Mrithula Shantha Thirumalai Anandanpillai (MURP 2020) Rebecca Yae (MURP 2020) Jessica Yelk (MURP/M.Arch 2021).


Ana Paula Pimental Walker