Urban Land Reform


According to Shadow Cities author Robert Neuwirth, the Brazilian government intends to give at least 15,000 squatters title to the homes they've built. The devil is in the details, of course, but the initial signs are promising, especially since there's plans to do more: "Raquel Rolnik, of the Ministry of Cities, reports that a legal survey is already in the works for 1,800 families in Parque Royal, and that all-told, 22,000 families in Rio's favelas will get legal titles. After the city does an official survey, people in the community will have the right, collectively or individually, to file for usucapiao…which essentially converts possession into the legal title to property."

Dominica, meanwhile, hopes to sell land to squatters.

Elsewhere in Reason: Robert Nelson reviewed Neuwirth's book for us this past fall. Hernando De Soto made the case for legalizing squatters' claims in an interview we ran in 1994. I argued that urban homesteaders are a people power movement last May.

NEXT: It's All About Synergies

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  1. Dominica is a fun place, but the lack of beaches and gambling cause a lot of the tourists to pass it by. Ecologically, it’s less diverse than nearby islands, but the rainforests are much better protected on Dominica–so ecotourists like it. However, they don’t spend as much because they tend to be goddamn dirty hippies.

    No idea what the investment climate is like, but it’s a fun place if you like hiking and snorkeling. With a bit of infrastructure, you could get the more upscale yuppie ecotourist types in there.

    It’s a pity, because even the police are nice and laid-back.

  2. If Lula’s government does it, it would be a nice example of convergence with the Left

  3. Excellent news. Dave Wiegel, take note who’s behind this.

    I recall previous stories on H&R about land title initiatives in, I think, Egypt and Indonesia. Howzabout a follow up?

  4. Hopefully they’ll plat that shit. Metes and bounds cities = teh shitty.

  5. Does making their property legal mean that they’ll now be subject to taxes and regulation? If so, this may be a net negative for the squatters.

  6. It means they can actually have their property protected and use it in legal transactions, which is a huge net positive. The lack of legal recognition and protection of property for anyone who isn’t a rich landowner has been pointed out as a huge problem in Latin America.

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