In January 2014, Sao Paulo started an innovative new program (Operação Braços Abertos — Operation Open Arms) to deal with the perceived problems associated with the public smoking of crack cocaine in the area known as Cracolândia (Crackland) where many homeless or street-entrenched drug users congregate.


The new program (which is a collaboration among several government departments, including health, culture, social assistance, human rights and citizenship, employment and urban infrastructure), offers housing and low-threshold employment opportunities to over 500 homeless drug users from Crackland – without requiring abstinence as a prerequisite for participation.This simple program gives people a place to live, a simple job (often cleaning the streets) and a pay cheque.


Open Arms has been so successful in it’s first year that on March 10, SENAD (Secretaria Nacional Antidrogas — Brazil’s National Drug Policy Organization) will announce that they are expanding the program to 20 other cities in the country.