Seminar discusses public policies for homeless people

The “Rethink and Rebuild” event brings together leaders from civil society, business, the public sector and academia to think about alternatives to improve the lives of thousands of homeless people in the city of Sao Paulo.
05 四月 2024
Seminar discusses public policies for homeless people

On Monday, April 8, the D. Paulo Evaristo Arns Commission for the Defense of Human Rights, Sao Paulo State Federation of Industry (FIESP) and FGV Sao Paulo Law School will hold a seminar called “Rethink and Rebuild.” The aim is to debate solutions and public policies to uphold the rights of homeless people. The event will take place at FIESP’s headquarters, in Sao Paulo, from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bringing together diverse and qualified actors to put the issue at the center of discussions, the meeting will feature three thematic panels, which will address proposals on urban planning and housing; work, income and citizenship; and comprehensive health challenges. The opening remarks will be given by Josué Gomes, president of FIESP; Maria Victoria Benevides, president of the Arns Commission; Oscar Vilhena, dean of the FGV Sao Paulo Law School; and Laura Dias, representative of the National Movement for the Rights of Homeless People.

“We believe that through a collective and multilateral approach, it is possible to restore dignity and the full exercise of citizenship to thousands of people who are invisible to the eyes of the public authorities. That’s why this broad front with civil society, the business world and academic institutions is so important,” says Oscar Vilhena, dean of the FGV Sao Paulo Law School and a member of the Arns Commission.

The speakers will include Júlio Lancellotti, episcopal vicar with responsibility for homeless people in the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo; Raquel Rolnik, architect, urban planner and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing; Luiz Kohara, urban planner and executive secretary of the Gaspar Garcia Center for Human Rights; Maria Alice (“Neca”) Setúbal, sociologist and chairwoman of the Center for Studies and Research in Education, Culture and Community Action (CENPEC); and Luciana Temer, lawyer and president of the Liberta Institute. The panel discussions will be moderated by Folha de S. Paulo journalists Vinicius Torres Freire, Eliane Trindade and Fernanda Mena.

According to data from the National Human Rights Observatory, the state of Sao Paulo accounts for 25% of Brazil’s homeless people, which puts it at the top of the national ranking of people without formal housing. An official census carried out by the Municipal Social Welfare Secretariat indicated that around 32,000 people were living on the streets in the city of Sao Paulo in 2021.

According to sociologist Maria Victoria Benevides, president of the Arns Commission, the figures are an exasperating testament to the failure of the state government of Sao Paulo to fulfill its constitutional duty to defend the human and fundamental rights of its citizens.

“We cannot allow society to continue to look away from the misery and suffering of these people. The urgency of this issue cannot be underestimated. We will bring it back to the center of public debate until efficient public policies are implemented,” she says.

“We shouldn’t think it’s normal to have thousands of families living on the streets. This event is important in terms of pointing out ways and solutions that involve the whole of society in overcoming this sad reality,” says Josué Gomes, the president of FIESP. “We won’t be a developed nation if these inequalities persist in such a rich country.”

In addition to the organizing bodies, the seminar is also supported by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the Sao Paulo State Movement of Homeless People (MEPSRSP), the Institute for the Right to Defense (IDDD), the National Movement for the Rights of Homeless People (MNLDPSR) and the National Street People’s Movement (MNPR).

Check out the full schedule below: 

8 a.m. – Sign-in and welcome coffee

8:30 a.m. – Opening remarks

9:10 a.m. – 1st Panel Discussion: Urban Planning and Housing

10:30 a.m. – 2nd Panel Discussion: Work, Income and Citizenship

1:30 p.m. – 3rd Panel Discussion: Comprehensive Health Challenges

3:00 p.m. – Closing remarks and thanks

Sao Paulo State Federation of Industry (FIESP)
1313 Avenida Paulista (opposite Trianon-MASP subway station)

To take part, please sign up here.


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