Elaine Santos

"I'm not going to lie and say it was beautiful. It was ugly, but it was peaceful"

Coming from
Rua Ipadu, 700, Curicica Rua Ipadu, 700, Curicica

Now living in
Minha Casa Minha Vida Colonia Juliano Moreira Minha Casa Minha Vida Colonia Juliano Moreira

It was ugly, but we had peace there, it was ours. It was just one room, which I shared, with one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, small living room. I arrived there when I was still little. I lived there with my husband and three children. It was a humble place, it was small, but it was ours. We didn’t ask anyone for anything. It was they who wanted to do these works, take us out of there and demolish everything. They practically gave us the apartments in return, but now they are charging us, alleging that City Hall won’t make the bank payments, and that an eviction notice is going to arrive and we’ll end up on the streets.

It was City Hall that came and told us the works were coming and we were going to have to leave, but we would have what we had a right to, which was this apartment. It was a rush, then they put us on social rent for a while, which was when we came together to see if we could get an apartment – a rush, for nothing. Until the apartment was ready. Now there is this rumour.

Now, for example, no one has any documents for this place, and now there is this rumour they are going to put us on the streets. How are we going to prove that this is ours? And if I had to pay now, with four children and a newborn in my arms? My daughter is not even a month old. I’m breastfeeding and I’m not even able to do it properly. I end up nervous. I’m so stressed, I’m not even producing milk properly.

What’s written in these letters is that the bank is charging us for the apartment. City Hall is late with its payments to the bank, and now they are charging the people who live here. I still haven’t received one.

They promised that as soon as the apartments were ready, we could go and live there. We weren’t to pay anything for the apartment. It was like an exchange, they knocked down our houses and gave us an apartment in return. We have to pay the water bill now, gas, it’s one bill after another, 50 and a bit reals, absurd.  Electricity is ridiculous. More than 200 reals. Imagine for those who are unemployed.

I was one of those who were chosen to go to City Hall and choose an apartment, and I went there and signed a contract for it, but they didn’t give us anything to take away in our hands. They gave us this card, which had Minha Casa, Melhor written on it, and on this card it had your CPF [identity] number and a little number. That was all. But what does this little card prove? We went there, and signed, but the paperwork stayed there. They said they couldn’t give us anything. There is a lot of disinformation. If you go there and ask, no one knows anything, no one gives you any information. But when they ask you for money, you have to turn it around. But when the time comes for information, no one gives it to you. When something is bothering them everything gets done, it’s all polite, coffee, little biscuits. Now that it’s been knocked down and that moved forward their works, we can go to hell.

Reporter: Natalia Viana

My journey

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