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.