The Street Boys and Girls Project, which turns 38 in 2021, runs the risk of being evicted at any time from Jurubatuba Street, in downtown São Bernardo do Campo, where it has been operating since 1989.
Social movements, parliamentarians, leaders from the periphery and unions have expressed support and demanded dialogue from Mayor Orlando Morando (PSBD) against the eviction order. A petition on the internet has 82,284 subscribers in support of the NGO’s permanence in the region.
In a statement, the city hall states that the area where the project is installed “will be adapted and used by the Social Assistance Secretariat to implement services related to the Ministry”.
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As a non-governmental organization, the Street Boys and Girls Project works in the fight to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents. There are countless stories of families who have been assisted over almost four decades.
According to the project’s coordinator, Néia Bueno, 350 families will be helpless if the eviction takes place.
“In all these years, the project has worked to implement the Child and Adolescent Statute [ECA] and helped in the creation of legal and tutelary councils in the municipality. We are recognized for our performance nationally and internationally”, he says.
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Néia, who has worked at the NGO since 1996, reports that the city has been contacted in recent months. According to her, only technicians from the Social Assistance Secretariat screened the demand presented by project representatives, but there was no progress.
“Contrary to what the municipal government has been saying, there was no formal conversation with the mayor. That’s why we consider it to be a political and ideological persecution of the city hall. Politics is the act of dialoguing, but the mayor is not willing to do that, not to mention that we cannot deny the fact that our headquarters are located in a privileged location with a careful eye on real estate speculation”, he adds.
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“Promoting eviction means attacking human rights”, assesses the secretary of Communication of the Union of Bank Workers of ABC, Belmiro Moreira. According to him, it is necessary that entities committed to the rights of children and adolescents join the resistance of this project that not only benefits São Bernardo, but extends to different regions.
In 2019, the city, under Orlando Morando (PSDB), withdrew the precarious use permit (without guaranteed stability, depending on the mayor’s decision). Project coordinators did not receive a communication about the measure. They learned of the decision through the municipality’s Official Gazette.
In October 2020, they received a first notice of an eviction order, which was later suspended by Judge Ida Inês Del Cid, who decided to maintain the headquarters until the end of the pandemic.
But, to the surprise of the project coordinators, still in the pandemic, a new notification was delivered by a city official on October 1, 2021, with a 15-day deadline for the eviction.
“There is a broad mobilization against the eviction order involving social entities and movements. In fact, we have been trying to have a conversation since April of this year, but we had the answer that he will only manifest himself in the case file”, according to an e-mail sent by the Executive, which the report had access to.
In the pandemic, the project expanded its work and partnered with the Black Coalition for Rights, Sefras and the unions of bank workers, chemists, metallurgists, municipal employees, among other entities.
By promoting joint actions in the campaign “Have People with Hunger, Give to Eat”, the Street Boys and Girls Project has served 350 families every month.
“We are talking about families who live on the outskirts, mostly black. These are people who worked as maids, like car keepers or candy sellers at traffic lights and who, in the pandemic, became unemployed. We are facing a hungry Brazil, with families that have been knocking from door to door looking for food”, he says.
In a statement, the Municipality of São Bernardo states that the NGO Meninos e Meninas de Rua “is prohibited from entering into agreements or contracts with any public entity within the State of São Paulo, as determined by the TCE/SP [Tribunal de Contas do Estado de São Paulo], for not correctly complying with agreements with the former Child Foundation of the city and the Municipality of Santo André. In addition, the entity is liable for lawsuits due to unpaid debts with the Administration, legally preventing the municipality from entering into any partnership with the entity, including permissions for the use of the municipalities themselves.”
Asked about the mayor’s denials of dialogue, sent by e-mail to the NGO in recent months, the city hall said that meetings were held between 2018 and 2020, but “in view of the restrictions, there are no conditions to enter into any agreement.”
Edition: Leandro Melito