“Who does not struggle is dead”


There are around 15,000 homeless people in São Paulo. The city also has nearly 40,000 abandoned buildings. In 2007, 200 homeless families moved into one of these abandoned buildings that had been otherwise vacant for 17 years.  Once a dapper hotel, the Mauá building’s new occupants have renovated their home and are still keeping up the building. When I arrived yesterday, the residents had just repainted for the holidays and were redoing their plumbing.


Now, the building is under fire. Authorities have tried to evict the residents of the Mauá building and over 10 other occupied abandoned buildings in São Paulo. So began the Roofless Movement. The people of the buildings and their allies have been since been fighting for legal rights to their homes and housing reform. The Mauá building occupants have proposed that the government buy the building from the owner who has ignored it for over two decades and has also racked up roughly 1.3 million dollars in unpaid taxes. They want to then convert it into affordable housing for low-income families. The buildings’ residents have endured multiple threats of the demolition of their homes.

The Roofless Movement’s mantra has become, “Who does not struggle is dead.”


About Morgan Spiehs
Morgan Spiehs is a junior from Wood River, Neb. Spiehs has traveled to India, Brazil and Ethiopia on photojournalism projects through the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She placed in the top five at the Hearst multimedia competition for the short documentary she made on a slum school in India. Last summer, she interned as the only full-time photographer for five weekly newspapers in northeast Nebraska. Spiehs will be interning at the Lincoln Journal Star this summer and will be photo chief at the Daily Nebraskan in the fall.

One Response to “Who does not struggle is dead”

  1. Morgan — I really like your first picture — the tenement. Can’t wait to see the end result of your project.

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