This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Examining Public Private Partnerships and the Production of Urban Space.
This paper evaluates the compatibility of public–private partnerships (PPP) for housing in Brazil with the notion of the right to the city, enshrined in the Constitution. A 3-year investigation of the country’s first housing PPP, Casa Paulista, located in downtown São Paulo city, informs the analysis. Drawing from the international debate on the right to the city and its application in Brazil, I offer a definition of the term that transcends the notion of rights-based policy, and implies urban dwellers’ appropriation of urban production and city space. While failing to scale up centrally located housing delivery, the PPP facilitates a new housing regime marked by the decreased ability of citizens, particularly grassroots movements, to appropriate housing production, directly contradicting the right to the city ideal. Finally, I describe an outcome from this new regime—an ad hoc and opaque system of public land allocation for PPP housing developments.