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On Deaf Ears 6
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
02 Apr 2015

Heriika S., 25, apologizes to her boyfriend. He helped her flee a rival favela after drug gangs made threats on her life. The women were joking about a rumor that there are rich Japanese businessmen wanting to marry for money.

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On Deaf Ears 8
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
02 Apr 2015

Lenice, 53, speaking about her life. She's a nursing technician and used to make a decent wage but had troubles with depression after both her parents died in her care. She can't get a job because she doesn't have a fixed address and is behind on her union dues.

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On Deaf Ears 9
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
02 Apr 2015

A good samaritan only known as Felipe (not pictured, refused to be identified) learned that it was David's (center) 1st birthday and bought him a cake. In a rare moment of joy, the homeless organized a makeshift birthday party for him. David was given to his grandmother, Vera Lucia, 65, (also not pictured) after his mother had no way of supporting him. David is not related to anyone else there.

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On Deaf Ears 12
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
02 Apr 2015

Gracie, 25, began smoking cigarettes at age 11 after her grandmother would ask her to light hers on the stove for her. She smokes 3 packs a day when she can afford it. She never made it past the 3rd grade in school.

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On Deaf Ears 3
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
01 Apr 2015

Kaue, 2, cries for his mother. His dad, Claudio "CG", 24, used to work selling drinks at favela funk parties. He claims to have been earning well over $3,000 USD a month; he owned multiple stands. He was living a comfortable middle class until police came in and shut the parties down. Now he's struggling to pay his $130 month rent.

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On Deaf Ears 4
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
30 Mar 2015

A pregnant woman gives a friend a back massage at 2:00 AM as other sleep and rotate shifts. As some sleep, others stay awake to watch for police.

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On Deaf Ears 5
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
30 Mar 2015

Andressa (alias), 20, posing for a portrait. Andressa spoke about leaving her boyfriend that day after he hit her. Despite this, they were seen cuddling 20 minutes later.

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On Deaf Ears 2
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Hiogo, 23, (center) emaciated. Food was scarce in the camp and usually consisted of stale crackers obtained from the homeless shelter or pasta made at a friends house and brought over. Hiogo is a day laborer working construction and in recent months has struggled to find work.

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On Deaf Ears 7
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Homeless women play cards to pass the time as they sit on their signs. Residents of a favela live effectively in a dictatorship run by drug gangs. The idea of using free speech to demand their rights is new to many of them.

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On Deaf Ears 10
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Stephany B., 24, (right) does nails as they talk about politics. Stephany said she wants a house with a yard so she can do nails and earn a living from home.

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Rio's Homeless Sidelined in the Name ...
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
26 Mar 2015

On the morning of March 26th, 2015, roughly 100 families were forcibly evicted from their homes by police in an abandoned lot in downtown Rio De Janeiro.  “If you don’t leave peacefully, you’ll leave when the bullets come down”, a police officer threatened, recalled M., a young black man who requested anonymity. By all accounts police were merciless in their eviction and went as far as confiscating simple things like hammers and pliers, allegedly for safety concerns.

Again homeless, the evicted families decided to sleep on the steps of City Hall and ensure their demands for affordable housing be heard. “People think we’re trying to rob them, but in fact we’re running away from that”, Fernando M., 48, said in desperation. Like Fernando, many of the evicted people were escaping the undeclared war between police and drug gangs in the city's Favelas, or slums. While the government does offer a growing number of public housing projects for the poor, few find them desirable to live in as they are still under the control of hostile drug gangs. Instead, these people set up homes in safer areas in the center of the city. 

Other evictees were crushed by soaring rent stemming from Olympic makeovers in their communities. Fernando recalled his rent only a few years ago was R$200 ($65 USD) and now has ballooned to over R$500 ($160 USD). Others are simply unemployed due to a sagging economy. Stuck in a catch-22, many are now unemployable because they have no fixed address.

As the days passed, the echoes of their discontent landed on the deaf ears of a bureaucratic and incompetent local government. In the end, no official action was taken by the city to ameliorate their situation. They eventually left their makeshift occupation by City Hall one-by-one. On April 6th, the remaining dozen or so families that had not left earlier decided to abandon the camp. Many of them found temporary housing in shelters, a friend’s house or other clandestine encampments throughout out the city.

Despite their efforts, the evicted families improvised war of attrition with local authorities is lost and their grievances continue unanswered. 

These photos offer an intimate portraite of some of Brazil's most neglected people.

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On Deaf Ears 1
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Recently evicted from an abandoned lot in downtown Rio, a now homeless man begins to spontaneously pose for a portrait. Tensions were high as just hours earlier they were evicted at gunpoint from a plot belonging to the Rio de Janeiro state water company, CEDAE.

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On Deaf Ears 16
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

New construction projects tower over the ruble of recently bulldozed shacks. Over 100 families lived on this abandoned plot belonging to CEDAE, the state water company. This area was once blighted and is now being renovated for the Olympic games.

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On Deaf Ears 13
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Homeless workers stand in attention at the steps of city hall as a meeting is called to discuss their housing situation. Behind them stands the Municipal Theater, which was remodeled at a cost of over $30 million dollars in 2010.

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On Deaf Ears 14
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

A pensive moment on the steps of city hall as recently displaced homeless workers rest after being evicted at 5 AM by police.

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On Deaf Ears 15
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Homeless workers gather to hear proposed solutions from a mediator from the city council. Through donations, they managed to raise nearly $150 USD for diapers and food for the children. However, no permanent solution was found.