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‘In Defence of Decent Housing’ read one placard as the public reacted to news of the proposed amendments to the 10-year master plan which included the removal of Community Land Trust (CLT) provision.

Our Programme Lead, Yiorgos Papamanousakis, explains why the CLT model is so vital for the equitable development of the city.

Image: Catalytic Communities

Rio de Janeiro, renowned for its vibrant social movements and community resilience, finds itself at a critical juncture in its urban development. The Rio de Janeiro Master Plan, a guiding document that shapes the city’s future, holds immense potential for transformative change. As an independent NGO committed to the promotion of safe and sustainable housing in thriving communities across the world, World Habitat firmly supports the inclusion of the Termo Teritorial Collectivo (TTC) in the Master Plan. The TTC, akin to the successful Community Land Trust (CLT) model, presents an innovative approach to collective land management and control. Its integration into the Master Plan has the potential to empower Rio’s favelas, tackle systemic challenges, and pave the way for a more participatory and just future for all.

Rio’s Master Plan and the Urgency of Inclusion

Rio de Janeiro’s Master Plan serves as a compass, guiding the city’s urban policies and strategies. Encompassing crucial areas such as housing, transportation, and social inclusion, the Master Plan plays a pivotal role in shaping the city’s trajectory for years to come. However, the recent exclusion of the TTC provisions through a last-minute amendment raises concerns about the transparency and inclusivity of the deliberative process. With over 1.5 million residents calling Rio’s favelas home, often excluded from the opportunities to better their own development, it is only through comprehensive and inclusive urban planning that the needs and aspirations of these communities can be successfully fulfilled.

Concerns and Misconceptions

Opponents of the TTC raise concerns about potential disruptions to established property rights and the implications for conventional planning processes. While acknowledging these concerns, evidence from the application of similar models does not support them. Well documented experiences from the US, where the roots of the CLT movement lie, such as the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Champlain Housing Trust in Vermont have demonstrated how the CLT model can lead to increased affordable housing options, community control over land, and the revitalization of neighborhoods. These examples highlight tangible benefits, and illustrate the transformative potential of collective land management and control for Rio’s favelas.

Unveiling the Promise of the TTC Model

The TTC (Termo Territorial Colletivo), in essence the CLT adapted to the Brazilian context, offers a transformative approach to urban development that promotes social justice, community participation, and sustainable growth. In a context of informal settlements with many similarities to Favela communities in Brazil, the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust has successfully addressed housing affordability and security of tenure while fostering community-led sustainable development, both socially and environmentally. The CLT has been key for the environmental improvement of the settlement and a driver for further investment in infrastructure. Secure land tenure through the CLT model has enabled residents to invest in their community, creating thriving neighbourhoods and building a sense of ownership and belonging. Caño Martín Peña’s success demonstrates the potential of the TTC model to empower communities and foster inclusive and equitable urban development.

Empowering Rio’s Favelas through the TTC

Incorporating the TTC model into Rio’s Master Plan represents an immense opportunity for the city and its favelas. By embracing the principles of the TTC model, Rio can address the systemic challenges faced by informal settlements, promote community participation, and foster the creation of sustainable neighborhoods. Civil society organizations, urban planners, and community leaders have expressed broad support for the TTC model, recognizing its potential to drive positive change in Rio’s urban development. The successes of CLTs across the Global North and Global South further strengthen the case for the TTC model as a transformative solution for Rio’s favelas.

Seizing the Opportunity: Inclusion of the TTC in the Master Plan

The recent attempt to exclude TTC provisions from the Master Plan has sparked a strong response from civil society, demonstrating the power of community mobilization and the urgent need for inclusive planning. This moment serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of transparent and participatory decision-making processes that prioritize the voices and aspirations of communities so often excluded and marginalized. As we move forward, it is crucial for Rio’s policymakers, Mayor, and City Council to recognize the significance of this historic opportunity and reinstate the TTC provisions in the Master Plan as it undergoes further deliberation and amendment.  By doing so, Rio can signal its commitment to a more inclusive, just, and resilient future for all its residents.

In June 2023, after such a strong response from communities and civic society we were delighted to hear that Rio City Hall have in fact decided to maintain provision for CLTs in the Master Plan. Find out more here. 


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