This may be a good thing (though it's much more complex than the government lets on): but there's much nonsense in the article:
1. "Without title, residents cannot finance home repairs, get credit or mail, or sell their property."
Well, no: while residents may not be able to get bank loans, people do manage to make home repairs, they can get credit cards through the local branch of the Caixa Economica, a federally-owned bank, and there's a booming market in which people buy and sell the possession rights to structures in these communities.
2. "They can also be evicted without legal recourse -- a real fear in a city where entire slums -- known as favelas -- have been removed to make way for commercial developments."
Sure this is a risk, but the truth is that Rocinha and Vidigal (and the majority of the city's 600-plus favelas) have been generally accepted as permanent parts of the city. There haven't been massive forced evictions in Rio in decades.
3. "Rocinha is reputed to be the largest shantytown in Latin America."
I appreciate the fudge-factor wording, but, no, Rocinha is not 'the largest shantytown in Latina America'--not by a long shot. It is the largest favela in Rio (or at least one of the two largest; Rio das Pedras is approximately the same size.) But its population is estimated to be somewhere between 150,000 and 250,000. There are many larger favelas in other Central and South American Countries.
4. "the Rocinha and Vidigal shantytowns"
Does it really make sense to call these communities that have water and electricity and in which most buildings are multi-story and made from reinforced concrete and brick 'shantytowns?' Rocinha and Vidigal are two of the most urbanized favelas in the city. Rocinha is almost fully developed, and a number of chain stores from the legal city have opened in the favela. Why call it a shantytown?
5. "The program is expected to benefit more than 5,000 families in the two favelas."
Hmmmm. The communities together probably have a population of close to 300,000. At five people per household, that's 60,000 families. So only 8 percent of the families in the two favelas will benefit. What will happen to the other 92 percent? What will happen to rents when people become property owners? What will happen to local businesses? Will they have to suddenly obey zoning ordinances and other codes? And what about the huge number of buildings that share walls or are propped on each other or cantilevered over each other. How will those land titles be drawn?
In short, handing out property titles is not always a simple thing.
[thanks to Jesse Walker for the link]