In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many longtime residents are being kicked out of their homes ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Reports indicate that a total of 386 households in the city’s “north zone” were evicted because of recent city developments. Many more families had already been evicted in other parts of the city as well.
Officials are clearing the homes in order to make what they claim are necessary renovations for hosting the games, such as building high-speed bus lanes.
Meanwhile, families that have been kicked out of their homes have not been properly compensated due to complications regarding the legal statuses of their properties.
Based on statistics from the city government of Rio de Janeiro, a total of 22,059 families have been forced to relocate since 2009. This is largely because of the need to make way for transport and other infrastructure projects relating to the 2016 Olympic Games.
Additionally, executive director of Catalytic Communities Theresa Williams says that the local government is using the Olympic Games as an excuse to segregate the city.
Williams said, “Wherever there is an Olympics, the level of transparency goes way down. Whether it’s for the new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit system) or the evictions at Vila Autódromo, the Olympics is the context for all of these resettlements. This is part of an unofficial policy to divide the rich from the poor in Rio.”
Furthermore, as the exiled families have in many cases been forced to leave the urban city and move to more rural environments, the number of bus lines have also been reduced, making it very difficult for the relocated people to keep their jobs.
About 75% of the families forced to leave their homes since 2009 have been successfully rehoused, many in new estates near their original homes. However, more than 8,600 families have been moved to the city’s “west zone”, which can be up to 37 miles away from the city center where many of their jobs are located.
Many of the affected people have been forced to work from home, a practice that is frowned upon in Brazil. Making matters worse is that the relocations have also caused extreme burdens on the mental health of those impacted. Those being essentially forced to live in the fringes of the city have also had a lack of access to schools, health facilities and other basic infrastructures.
So while many people are excited about next year’s Olympic Games, many locals are suffering as a result.