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The Road to Rio: Equal Access to Urban Land & Shelter

November 20, 2009

This event was organized by Blair Ruble, the director of the Comparative Urban Studies Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Additional presenters were Mohamed El-Sioufi of UN-HABITAT, Steve Asare Akuffo of Ghana’s Housing Finance Association and Milton Funes, CHF International’s Director in Honduras. Janice Perlman of Meg-Cities Project described her research on Favela’s in Rio de Janeiro, which was the most applicable for the preparation of the World Urban Forum (WUF5) planned for March 22-26, 2010.

Perlman made three main points. She described the Right to the City motto; urban land and shelter issues in Rio; and the equal/unequal access of the city for the poor. Her study evaluates people’s well-being living in the favelas in Rio. She interviewed a sample of 700 people (of which 300 are family members from her 1968-69 dissertation research).

The idea of the Right to the City comes from the 1988 Rio Constitution which mandated participation in local planning. Yet, i…

All Economics is Local

The straits of cities and counties are hurting the recovery
Municipal troubles

The Economist
Nov 18th 2010 | Los Angeles | from PRINT EDITION


Blame it on City Hall
AMERICA’s most sordid government scandal of the year was probably one that took place inside one of its tiniest governments: that of the city of Bell. Bell is really more of a blue-collar neighbourhood within the vast conurbation of Los Angeles than anything recognisable as a city. But the city elders, eight of whom are now awaiting trial, nonetheless paid themselves outrageous pensions and salaries—almost $800,000 a year in one case, about twice what Barack Obama makes—while fleecing residents in countless innovative ways.

Bell is a reminder that local government can cause big problems. There are roughly 90,000 local governments in America, mainly cities, counties and school and utilities districts. Together with the 50 state governments, they account for 15% of total employment. But whereas the private sector did most of its j…