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MSTC – City Center Homeless People’s Movement, São Paulo in collaboration with Escola da Cidade and O Grupo Inteiro

São Paulo, Brazil

Founded on the belief that workers must have access to housing, Movimento Sem Teto do Centro (MSTC) fights on behalf of families experiencing homelessness. Led by Carmen Silva—an activist, immigrant, and mother who has herself experienced homelessness—the organization promotes debate and activism around structural failures of urban planning and housing policies, helping citizens gain access to affordable homes. Through MSTC’s actions, over dozen previously abandoned or unoccupied buildings in São Paulo are now inhabited by people in need. MSTC partners with architects, artists, independent media groups, universities, and cultural and recreational institutions to integrate the population it serves into the cultural and civic fabric of São Paulo. Its partners include O Grupo Inteiro, an interdisciplinary collective that combines architecture, graphic design, and curating, and Associação Escola da Cidade, a teachers-run design school located in downtown São Paulo that offers undergraduate degrees in architecture and urbanism.

CAB 3 Contribution

Project Overview

MSTC–Housing as Citizenship Practice, 2019


Minha Carne [My Flesh], 2019 Video (8 min.)

Era o Hotel Cambridge [The cambridge squatter], 2016
Film (99 min.)

Quem Não Luta Tá Morto [Who does not struggle is dead]: Dani, Jô Marina, Sonia, Elaine, 2016–19
Videos (13 min. each)

Quem ocupa, cuida [One who occupies, takes care], 2019
Video (17:22 min.)

Nearly seven million families in Brazil live without adequate, affordable housing. Yet it is estimated that Brazil has more than six million vacant properties in urban areas. Since the 1990s, various housing movements have occupied vacant properties in downtown São Paulo to pressure the city to implement social housing policies and projects; at the same time, their endeavors provide temporary housing to low-income communities so they can gain access to urban amenities and employment available only in the city center. MSTC is one of the most active such organizations, currently managing more than a dozen occupations and raising awareness among low-income communities regarding their public rights. Developed through a research studio in collaboration with the architecture school Escola da Cidade and the art and curatorial collective O Grupo Inteiro, this installation presents the many strategies developed by MSTC. Ocupação 9 de Julho, one of their most successful projects, is home to more than three hundred people, including migrants and refugees from other regions of Brazil and other countries, who otherwise would live in unstable conditions or be homeless. It also offers educational and job training services and functions as a cultural hub.

The City is the Site