The Korean Housing Association

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Journal of the Korean Housing Association - Vol. 26 , No. 6

[ Article ]
Journal of the Korean Housing Association - Vol. 26, No. 6, pp. 35-42
ISSN: 2234-3571 (Print) 2234-2257 (Online)
Print publication date Dec 2015
Received 12 May 2015 Revised 10 Aug 2015 Accepted 15 Aug 2015

The Brazilian Housing program “Minha Casa Minha Vida” : A Systematic Literature Review
Kowaltowski, Doris* ; Granja, Ariovaldo Denis** ; Moreira, Daniel de Carvalho** ; Pina, Silvia Mikami** ; Oliva, Carolina Asensio*** ; Castro, Mariana Rios****
*Professor of Architecture, University of Campinas, UNICAMP
**Associate Professor, University of Campinas, UNICAMP
***Doctoral Student, Graduate Program, UNICAMP
****Undergraduate Student, Architecture Course, UNICAMP

브라질의 사회주택 프로그램에 관한 문헌분석연구 : “민하 카사 민하 비다” 사례를 중심으로
코왈토스키 도리스* ; 그라야 아리오발도 데니스** ; 모레이라 다니엘 드카발호** ; 피나 실비아 미카미** ; 올리비아 캐롤라이나 아센시오*** ; 카스트로 마리아나 리오스****
Correspondence to : Doris Kowaltowski, DAC-FEC-UNICAMP, Ave. Albert Einstein 951, Campinas, SP, CEP 13083-852, Brazil E-mail:


The Brazilian Federal Housing Program “Minha Casa Minha Vida” -PMCMV (My House My Life) is part of a large housing policy to eradicate the housing deficit, estimated at around five million homes in the country. The Ministry for Cities created a network of independent research organizations to evaluate the program, and the PMCMV has attracted many studies. Despite the inherent worth of these individual studies, there is a need for a holistic evaluation. A Systematic Literature Review (SLR) is seen as an important contribution to focus research efforts on the problems identified, to avoid the repetition of studies and to provide novel insights. This article carried out a SLR to map and quantify the types of research and represent a graphic panorama of published studies. Gap spotting was part of the study. In the five-year period from 2010-2014, the SLR identified 1489 bibliographic items. The panorama is categorised according to types of publications, and the analysis of items shows that most studies are concentrated on housing policies, financial questions, urban impacts and Brazilian social development. The results of this SLR raise some new research questions and show opportunities to reduce errors in the housing projects themselves.

Keywords: Brazilian social housing research, Systematic Literature Review (SLR), PMCMV
키워드: 브라질 사회주택, 문헌분석(SLR), PMCMV

I. Introduction

Brazil historically presents a large housing deficit that various-, but often-dispersed Federal and State Government programs-, have tried to combat. This deficit has its origins in a growing and shifting population, economic development, being unable to attend the demand, and a lack of coordinated attention given to the housing problem of the poorer segments of the population.

For the last decade, the housing deficit in Brazil stands at around 5.5 million homes, of which about 80% are needed in urban areas (Shimbo, 2010), and of these some 90% are necessary for families with a salary inferior to five Minimum salary (MS)1), where one MS equals about US$ 23,200 (the August 2015 conversion rate)2). The existing housing stock also needs improvements, because around ten million homes have no connection to public infrastructure service, for instance (Shimbo, 2010).

To contribute to the discussion of social housing in Brazil, this paper presents a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) of studies conducted on a recent national housing program called “Minha Casa, Minha Vida”-MCMV (My Home My Life). This review created a map, or panorama, that gives a sense of scale of data already published on this program. The panorama of studies on the MCMV program (PMCMV) and a synthesis of types of research underway are shown. Gap spotting was part of the study to contribute to the discussion of the impact on housing quality in Brazilian cities of the PMCMV.

II. Background on the Brazilian Housing Situation

For 20 years between 1967 and 1986, Brazil adopted an official national housing program to finance the construction and acquisition of homes in the form of single or multi-family residential units (houses and apartments). In 1995, the Federal Government created a new National Policy for Housing-PNH (Política Nacional de Habitação). However, the ten-year gap, between 1986 and 1995, caused urban problems such as lack of housing and urban infrastructure, including transportation. The new policy aimed to overcome some of the more urgent problems; however, without allocating sufficient funding. In 2001, the Federal Government enacted the Statute of the City (Estatuto da Cidade) to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities through incentives and policy changes. Important programs were created with large investments; especially a development acceleration program, called PAC (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento), was launched in 2007. The Ministry for City Affairs (Ministério das Cidades) of the Federal Government controls this program. Its goal is to invest in social interest areas, using federal funds. The PAC program had a budget of R$ 503.9 billion (around US$ 148 billion, according to exchange rates of August 2015) for the period of 2007-2010. These large investments come in parcels. PAC 3, for instance, aims to build three million homes from 2015 to 2018, when the next federal elections will happen (Ministério das Cidades, 2014).

The housing program of PAC is called “Minha Casa, Minha Vida”-MCMV. Officially launched in 2009, the first budget of the MCMV program reserved R$ 34 billion (around US$10 billion) for a three-year period. The PMCMV, in its first and second parcels, had an ambitious plan to build one million housing units for very low-income families, with earning from 0 to 10 MS. 80% of the costs of such construction cost is subsidized, so that the incomes of families are not affected by more than 10%. The program also includes families with higher incomes according to what are called “Faixas” groups. The program is distinct from previous ones, giving the private sector the opportunity to engage in the lower housing stratum. However, because construction for the lowest income group is not profitable, due to recent economic problems in the country, the private companies prefer to build for the higher income groups. For the lowest income group, design-build contracts are the basis of the program in contrast to previous public housing efforts, when design-bid-build contracts were the norm. This new approach is seen as a means to increase the private sector’s commitment and control in relation to quality delivery to end-users. Most housing programs in Brazil in the past have concentrated their efforts on families with incomes above five MS. The MCMV program is an attempt to attend to the needs of the very poor. <Figures 1 and 2> show examples of MCMV housing complexes.

Figure 1. 
Examples of Walk-up Apartment Blocks of a PMCMV Project


Figure 2. 
Examples of Single Family Houses of a PMCMV Project


The Program has four modalities for financing a home: (1) a subsidized line, for families with incomes up to three MS; (2) a line for families with incomes of up to ten MS, through a subsidy program and acquisition payments depending on the family income level. Municipal governments are in charge of the selection of families for these two modalities. The third line (3) is specifically intended to support participatory proposals in urban as well as rural areas, and (4) is a line for special credit to provide urban infrastructure for social housing areas in general (Shimbo 2010).

The PMCMV also has a general economic purpose. The construction industry employs a large workforce and this can be used to stimulate the economy of a country. However, the social aim, to permit home ownership to a large segment of the Brazilian population, should not be underestimated. Owning a home has other values that go beyond purely economic issues, relating to psychological feelings of belonging, status and social stability.

With so much attention given to social problems and especially to housing for low-income families, the PMCMV should be examined. Many questions are raised and should be answered by independent studies. The reasons for the perpetuation of typical minimum design criteria, with monotonous proposals and results, built throughout the country, should be questioned. In light of the important investments made and planned, other aspects need investigation as well.

Many studies have already been conducted on PMCMV. However, despite the inherent worth of these individual studies, there is a need for a more holistic evaluation of these. A SLR is seen as an important contribution to focus research efforts on the problems identified in available studies, to avoid the repetition of investigations and to provide novel insights. A synthesis of individual existing studies is therefore indicated.

To support such examinations, this paper presents a study on the research literature produced on PMCMV in the last five years from 2010-2014. This review on studies on PMCMV can provide a sense of scale of data already published on the program as a panorama or map.

III. Methods and Tools

SLRs structure accumulated scientific knowledge and highlight essential results for theoretical or practical applications. Denyer and Tranfield (2009) recommend a five-step approach for review studies: 1. Question formation; 2. Locating studies; 3. Selection and evaluation of studies; 4. Analysis and synthesis of results found in studies; and 5. Reporting and using the results. These SLRs are important to interpret available evidence related to a specific research question in an unbiased and repeatable way. SLRs, as scoping investigations, often precede usual literature reviews to obtain a sense of scale of data already published. The study of this paper is a SLR, as a broad review of references available, and as a bibliographic map, to identify what research evidences exist on the MCMV housing program.

To create this map based on a SLR, this study used a single keyword, Programa Minha Casa Minha Vida, because first investigations uncovered large and conflicting results with multiple keywords. The search then determined the location of studies in three data banks: “Scopus”, “Scielo” and “Google Scholar”. A five-year period from 2010 to 2014 limited the study further, because the program officially started in 2009. To manage the size of data retrieved and analyse each result individually, each year had its separate collections for conference papers, articles in journals, books and book chapters, monographs of capstone activities of undergraduate courses, reports and finally dissertations and doctoral theses. The study retrieved data through the “ZOTERO” bibliographic research tool. After retrieval and separation, the data received an individual check to certify that the types of studies are in the correct collection and specifically on the MCMV program. Thus, the SLR on studies on PMCMV produced a ZOTERO collection that can be further analysed in relation to its content. The graphic representations of this collection used “Microsoft Excel” to produce charts, and “Paper Machine” for ZOTERO to demonstrate the most frequent words encountered in the studies of the collection, as “Wordclouds” and topics through the “Topic Modelling” application, also available in “Paper Machine”.

IV. Bibliometrics

The keyword “Minha Casa Minha Vida” in Google scholar search renders 4430 results. Such a large number of references is not easily managed or analysed, and the SLR study needed a structured approach, separating references by year and type of publication. On one hand, this first result shows that there is an enormous interest in PMCMV in public and academic circles. On the other hand, a search in Scopus reveals 24 items, and Scielo yields only 7 items. Most research therefore is published primarily locally, in journals, conference papers and theses, written in Portuguese. <Figures 3 to 7> show major results graphically of the structured data.

Figure 3. 
Total Number of Studies on PMCMV.

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Figure 4. 
Conference Papers on PMCMV.

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Figure 5. 
Articles on PMCMV in Journals.

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Figure 6. 
Books, Monographs and Reports on PMCMV.

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Figure 7. 
Theses and Dissertations on PMCMV.

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After individual analysis of the first Google Scholar search and structuring by year and type of publication, 1489 bibliographic items remained, shown in <Figure 3> over the five-year period. The total number of research results are divided according to the type of publications as follows: total publications −1489; conference papers −351; articles in journals −597; books or book chapters −28; reports –72; monographs −192 and dissertations and theses −249. The variation of each category over the five-year period is shown for the total in <Figures 3 and 8>, for conference papers in <Figure 4>, for articles in journals in <Figure 5>, for monographs, books, chapters in books and reports in <Figure 6> and for dissertations and theses in <Figure 7>.

Figure 8. 
Panorama of Studies on PMCMV by Year and by Type of Study

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The content of this panorama of studies on PMCMV is graphically represented in <Figures 9 to 11>. The “wordcloud” of <Figure 10> represents a word-count of the total content of the ZOTERO database. “Paper Machine”, the application that creates the “wordcloud”, clearly highlights those words, most found in the texts, their abstracts, keywords and titles. Other graphic representations of the content of the documents can be created through the “topic modelling” method of “Paper Machine”. Two types of representations are shown <Figures 9 and 11>. The topics and the number of studies that discuss these can be identified. The variation of the number of studies, which are dedicated to these topics over the five-year period, can be identified by their colour and measured in <Figure 9> by the size of the different bands. <Figure 11> shows the rise and fall of studies according to their topics. This type of graphic representation makes the identification of topics easier.

Figure 9. 
Topic Model of ZOTERO Content of PMCMV Studies Showing Topic Strata in Bands

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Figure 10. 
“Wordcloud” of ZOTERO Content of PMCMV Studies, Showing Words Most Found in All Studies.

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Figure 11. 
Topic Model of ZOTERO Content of PMCMV Studies Showing Topic Strata in Lines.

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V. Knowledge Gained

The panorama of studies on PMCMV over the period of 2010-2014 presented above first demonstrates the acute interest of the national scientific community in this housing program. Over the five-year period some fluctuations occured. For instance, conference articles show a steady increase, while the number of articles in journals varies over the period, but also shows an increase in 2014. Many undergraduate final year projects used PMCMV as a topic in the years 2011 and 2012, and interest in this topic declines steadily after that. Very few books have been published so far and, reports, although with an increase in 2011, are mainly published by government agencies.

The number of dissertations and theses shows a sharp increase in 2012 and then a surprising decline. In Brazil, on average, graduate students have two to three years to defend their dissertation. In 2012, the first dissertations on PMCMV appear in larger numbers in the panorama of studies reviewed. The number of dissertations and theses should have increased in 2013 and 2014. This is not the case, however, as <Figure 7> shows. A speculation might be that the first year of the PMCMV had a large impact on the academic community and the country as a whole due to the large investments in the program and the challenging types of goals of PMCMV. In 2012, however, academic interest in the program declines. Doctoral theses, taking at least four years to be completed, would be defended in 2015. Therefore, it should be interesting to see if the number of PhDs, with results on PMCMV increase in the next few years.

Graphic representation of results gives an overview of the words and research topics most found in studies on the MCMV program. Words with most occurrences in the studies, highlighted in <Figure 11>, are: social; development; housing; to be; political program; national; city; construction and work. The most highlighted topics <Figures 9, 11 and 12> are best measured in <Figure 9>, as red and blue bands, and identified in <Figure 12>. These topics are: housing program; housing construction; and neighbourhood and spatial configuration (urban design). Other topics also appear such as human rights and legal considerations, urban planning and the city, environmental quality and sustainability, social policies, users (residents), the house or home and the kitchen, architectural design and user habits and construction site and construction management.

Figure 12. 
Analysis of Titles of the Panorama of Studies on PMCMV by Year and Keywords.

Source. Authors

<Table 1> presents an analysis of titles of articles found in Scopus and Scielo. These results show a diverse distribution of topics discussed in these publications, with urban impact as a main focus. Post-Occupancy Evaluations (POEs) are absent, although various articles address questions of satisfaction, such as “values”. Only one study on humanization of the built environment was published with reference to PMCMV, giving an indication that social and economic questions are predominantly addressed. Fewer studies are conducted on the urban, environmental and architectural qualities of MCMV neighbourhoods.

Table 1. 
Analysis of Titles of Articles Found in Scopus and Scielo Databanks
Keywords Scopus Scielo
Public policies 2 1
Urban design and impact 5
Financial and economic issues 3 2
Urban mobility 1
Land ownership questions 2
Case studies 1
Construction work safety 1
Life Cycle Analysis:Energy and water efficiency 3
Values (non-financial) 3
Urban segregation 2 1
Space standards 1
Humanization 1
Human rights 1
Critique of PMCMV 1

<Table 2> and <Figure 12> show the result of an analysis of titles of studies of the SLR as a whole, with most items coming from Google Scholar.

Table 2. 
Analysis of Titles of Articles Found in Google Scholar
Keywords 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Lean Construction 3 2 3 1 3
Marketing 1 3 1 1 0
Public policies 17 35 25 22 15
Building Systems 11 11 15 7 13
Urban Design 24 67 63 57 60
Management 5 6 11 2 4
Technology 2 3 3 6 1
Social Issues 17 58 69 84 50
Environment and Sustainability 7 24 31 25 15
Financial and Economic Issues 9 73 52 28 19
Building Industry 4 13 12 5 7
Architecture 2 5 10 13 5
Urban Planning 2 0 2 1 0
Product Development 1 1 0 0
Housing in general 0 30 42 42 36
Quality (product) 0 0 6 1 1
Health Issues 0 0 2 1 0

<Table 1 and 2> show that emphasis is given to social and economic issues, followed by urban location questions of the housing projects. Architectural design and technological advances are poorly represented in these studies, reflecting the reality of the housing projects, based on repetitive design models and traditional construction methods. Evaluations and analysis methods are also not highlighted in the studies included in this SLR. Thus, there is a need to develop more focused investigations.

Specific evaluation methods may be necessary to embrace PMCMVs characteristics and differences found in the various regions of Brazil. The country has several climate zones that must be considered in housing quality. Regional availability of building materials also influences construction quality, needing specific studies.

Research, mapped in this SLR, should answer some specific questions on important housing issues for each agent involved in the program. For professionals and academics in architecture, questions should touch on design issues. Economists and urban planners would like to see results on social development and real estate needs market impacts of PMCMV. The government needs to show, through data transparency, that the program responds to its political program goals.

These different agents will have different questions that need answering. Some of these questions are: What is the quality of the buildings that the government subsidizes for very low-income families?; Is the quality different for higherincome families?; Do the new neighbourhoods consider present day urban planning theories?; Have the projects been evaluated through POE studies?; Do designs meet people’s needs?; What kinds of problems occur?; Are these mainly urban or building construction pathology problems?; and What impact does PMCMV have on shifting social and economic conditions?

The first analysis of research results found in the SLR will not answer all these questions but can indicate topics for new studies. An in-depth analysis should investigate original research questions of the publications included in this review. Once these are clearly established, additional research questions and goals can be formulated. New and changing user necessities and desires should be examined, so that the opinions of endusers’ can be incorporated into the next phase of the PMCMV. Also, designers and the housing commission need to know if PMCMV attains higher approval rates, or lower obsolescence, than previous government efforts to decrease the housing deficit. Construction companies need to find out user satisfaction rates to avoid the repetition of errors and gain impetus for improvements in design and construction techniques. Also, in general terms, the academic community would like to know how PMCMV compares to housing solutions in other countries. Can PMCMV apply global standards without substantial effects on costs and, therefore affordability of social housing (Choguill, 2007; Ferguson & Navarrete, 2003)? Other studies should assess values families attach to elements of the home and compare these with values found in similar investigations of housing programs in other developing countries (Ruiz et al., 2014; Kowaltowski & Granja, 2011; Benedikt, 2008; Preiser & Vischer, 2005; Spencer & Winch, 2002). Finally, theoretical foundations can be established for social housing in developing countries like Brazil.

Some studies criticise the MCMV program, especially in relation to legal and urban issues of housing. Fewer studies question architectural and environmental comfort quality, however (Neto et al., 2012).

The critical studies demonstrate that spatial and social segregation occurs, because the majority of MCMV housing complexes are built in outlying suburbs of large urban areas. Mobility of the families living in new MCMV projects is reduced, and this directly affects access to jobs, schools, health and social services, as well as recreation possibilities.

A study commissioned by the Federal Government to assess the MCMV program reveals some specific results (Cardoso, 2013) as outlined:

• The PMCMV presents different results in different localities across Brazil; therefore, the program cannot be considered national in its results.
• Different urban relations exist with projects close to city centres and those built on the outskirts of urban areas.
• Scholars criticised the program since its beginning. Architects considered the minimum space standards of the program too low, and they predicted low quality design proposals. The evaluation of many of the projects, for the lowest income group, shows a repetition of similar solutions which attend only minimum requirements without innovation or technical advances.
• Contradictory situations and results are shown in this report and the diversity of impacts raises doubts and questions on the management of the PMCMV.

Cardoso (2013) also identifies specific problems relating to PMCMV and lists some positive results as well:

• MCMV housing complexes are considered too large. Although the program restricts projects to 300 residential units, construction companies often join several small projects for economic reasons. Thus, enormous tracks of land are transformed into a “sea” of equal buildings, and neighbourhood identity is lost.
• The program stipulates that 40% of homes of the program must be reserved for the poorest families, earning up to three MS. However, in most cities only 5% of projects are earmarked for this income level.
• Many finished projects are managed as closed condominiums (gated communities), restricting access to public land and fragmenting the urban tissue. High crime rates in most Brazilian cities influence the tendency to control access. New studies on housing security are therefore needed.
• Low-income families have no, or little, experience in managing a closed condominium. Additional costs can cause disputes among residents and families may be forced to leave the newly acquired house or apartment for financial reasons.
• Many municipalities received social housing projects for the first time. This is considered very positive. The local government is thus forced to become more organized, train staff to manage the program and accompany families through social services.
• The report shows that in municipalities were the city reserved land and supported the program the quality of housing projects is better.

Finally, the Cardoso (2013) report points out that many more studies are necessary, especially those that evaluate the projects through POE studies and careful measurements of satisfaction levels. To gain valid results, special attention must be given to research methods of POE studies. Families coming from slum conditions will often show high levels of satisfaction and these should be compared to objective and technical evaluations of housing conditions (Kowaltowski & Granja, 2011). Survey tools, which can faithfully assess the quality of people’s lives in these new conditions, must be tested and applied with statistically robust methods. Studies must be repeated to gauge the first impressions against later satisfaction levels. Dissolution with the new home may appear and its causes should be identified.

VI. Conclusions

This paper presented a SLR of studies on the MCMV program in Brazil over a five-year period. The SLR created a map, as a panorama, and revealed that PMCMV is a fertile social housing research topic at the moment in Brazil. Various scientific communities investigate the Federal Government’s housing program that started in 2009. In the five-year period from 2010-2014, 1489 studies published their results, as articles, reports, dissertations and theses. The panorama reveals that a large variety of topics are investigated. Urban, social and economic issues are the main subjects addressed. The SLR was able to point out gaps in available research results. To increase the quality of social housing these gaps must be filled, through new and creative investigations. This SLR gives a first panorama of studies on PMCMV and opens new avenues for research to understand the theoretical foundations of social housing in Brazil and their practical applications to improve housing quality.

1) The minimum salary (MS) stands at R$ 78,800 corresponding to around US$ 23,200. The exchange rate in August 2015 was US$ 1 to R$ 3.4.
2) Economic problems have recently affected the exchange rate.


This manuscript was based on the paper presented at the 2015 Conference of Asia-Pacific Network for Housing Research.

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