Strategies for the Sustainable Planning, Financing and Implementation of Low-Income Housing and Urban Development Policy



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
Housing Information System and Participation of Technical Staff The introduction of a housing information system led to the teams reviewing their working methods and making more judicious decisions about the information likely to be relevant for formulating housing policy. As a result of this planning and management tool the teams’ working processes as a whole were rationalized. The different departments in SEHAB were in due course in a better position to identify and resolve a series of overlapping and/or missing functions. The factors that led to the success of the housing information system were the participation of the technical staff in the definition of data to be updated and included in the system. The SEHAB technical and management corpus was deeply involved at all stages of preparing the project actions. This ensured the sustainability of the various innovations that were put in place and official commitment to all the targets established during the strategic planning stage and forming part of the Municipal Housing Plan. Planning and Monitoring System Introduction of strategic planning resulted in an ongoing process for improving targeted proposals that led to progress being made in the areas of resource management, output monitoring and management training for SEHAB teams. The lesson learned here is that a systematic and ongoing process is a key factor to the management capacity management, especially considering the data updating process and its positive consequences to the prioritization intervention system. It’s very important and positive to establish a continuous planning system, accomplished by a monitoring system (in our case, still in course). Resource Intensive Cities that plan to build their own information and management system for planning purposes must be aware that it requires significant investment in terms of human, technological and financial capacity building. As one of the wealthiest cities in the region, São Paulo is able to invest substantial resources in HABISP. Many cities in partner countries, however, have limited resources which must be taken into account. Also, replicating HABISP in the exact form used by São Paulo is not recommended. It is essential that cities first assess their capacity and invest in building their own unique information system based on their specific needs and institutional knowledge. Dissemination The group of studies and planning actions undertaken in the lead-up to the drafting of the Municipal Housing Plan ensured the cohesion and uniform approach of the activities developed, as well as helping to institutionalize the final results of the project. In the light of the current institutional situation in Brazil (e.g. introduction of the National Housing Policy and the National Housing System – calling for all Brazilian municipal authorities to prepare Housing Plans), the results of this project could well emerge as a model to be followed by other municipalities. The project’s results dissemination, through the Cities Alliance website, or even through specific actions undertaken by Cities Alliance São Paulo Office and/or Ministry of Cities could be useful to some cities that are also preparing their Municipal Housing Plan, in accordance to the National Housing System directions.


Ranked among the world’s largest cities, São Paulo has faced a housing crisis for decades. With 26 per cent of its 11 million residents living in precarious and informal settlements, the city’s major challenges include slum upgrading, reducing vulnerability to natural hazards, regularising land tenure and providing decent accommodation to its residents. While there are efforts underway, it was necessary to develop sustainable financing strategies to ensure the effective implementation of the municipal government’s poverty-focused housing policies. In this context, the continuation of the partnership between the City of São Paulo Department of Housing and Urban Development (SEHAB) and Cities Alliance aims to contribute to consolidate the on-going efforts to implement mechanisms for sustainable financial management.
The general objective of the proposed project is to expand and consolidate the implementation of the housing policy which has been adopted by SEHAB, especially in relation to its application in slum areas and informal subdivisions, through strategies of sustainable financing and strengthening of SEHAB’s management capacity. In relation to its specific objectives, the project aims to: a) Develop sustainable financing instruments to support housing policy; b) Strengthen SEHAB’s management capability; and c) Implement a system for program and project supervision, monitoring and evaluation.
• Implementation of strategic planning for social housing • Implementation of the housing information management system • Studies on the adoption of the methodology for updating the cadastral details of favelas and estimating the numbers of people requiring housing • Studies on the adoption of a method for updating the cadastre of risk areas and for estimating the population numbers involved, by type of provision required • Modeling and application of the micro-credit program aimed at housing improvements • Evaluating and overhauling the municipal subsidies policy • Survey and comparison of costs invested per family in different social housing programs • Study on the SEHAB institutional arrangement • Study on land regularization programs
Expected Impacts and Results
As a result of this project, strategic planning adopted as a systematic planning and management practice for undertaking programs and projects. Investment decisions are now made on the basis of clear technical prioritization criteria developed by the project, depending on the level of precariousness of the settlements concerned. With HABISP, city authorities and technical staff are able to define priorities for intervention, assist in urban policy development and integrate plans with other federal and state government agencies. This has also reduced the duplication of social programmes, promoting efficiency and coordination among different actors involved in the public housing sector. These factors have contributed to increased public funding for upgrading efforts in São Paulo; by 2011, it was USD 2.1 billion. Online access to information has also enabled various city stakeholders to become actively involved in the conception, implementation and fulfillment of municipal interventions. The HABISP website is an important information source for residents on the policies and plans under development. It also helps track project progress and budgetary executions online, leading to transparency and accountability. Online access has also facilitated theoretical studies and contributions to the formulation of the city’s housing policy by academic researchers. Another Brazilian city, São Bernardo do Campo, has developed its own information management system along the lines of HABISP. In 2008, São Paulo, with the support of SEHAB and the Cities Alliance, organised a successful south-south knowledge exchange on slum upgrading for representatives of six large cities including Cairo, Manila, Lagos, Ekurhuleni and Mumbai.