Residents of Vila Autodromo, the community alongside Rio’s Olympic Park, have finally agreed a new plan for their community with City Hall.
It is a victory for the 20 families who signed the agreement, as they will now be rehoused within Vila Autodromo, after years of battling forced evictions.
As well as 20 new houses, the residents will get a Residents’ Asssociation building and leisure space with a small park and sports field. According to the plan, two schools will be built alongside the new homes.
The new homes will be built by July 22 this year, and those that remains on the site and whose homes will not be affected by the building works will only see their houses torn down once they have the keys to their new homes in their hands. Those who have to stay in temporary homes while works go on have insisted they be put up on the site itself, fearful that otherwise, they might never get the chance to return.
There were originally about 550 homes in Vila Autodromo. Since 2009 residents have lived under the threat of Olympics-related evictions, which began in earnest in 2014. Under pressure from City Hall, many were relocated to the nearby Parque Carioca development, while those that resisted and remained were forced to live in precarious conditions, often without energy or a clean water supply and surrounded by rubble from previous evictions. At times, the site resembled a war zone and some residents suffered dengue fever and zika as a result of pools of water in the uneven ground as a result of constant construction and demolition.
Despite not meeting all their demands, the new plan is being celebrated by residents, who succeeded in getting City Hall to increase the size of the new homes, amongst other demands. It has been a long battle for a community which has become a symbol of evictions and the fight against them in Rio de Janeiro. Nevertheless, residents and their supporters will remain alert during the next steps.