When the cashier Agnes Marques Ferreira lost her supermarket job in January, the government of her hometown of Maricá saved her from plunging into misery by providing her with a monthly basic income worth around 900 reals, the equivalent of 140 euros ($171).
In theory, the sum would hardly be enough for the single mother of two boys to make ends meet. But Marques Ferreira now pays 20 percent less for electricity and water. Furthermore, the city’s public transportation system is free of charge, and if she does need to make larger expenditures, such as renovating her bathroom, she can apply for a no-interest loan from the city.
She lives together with her family in a simple house in a Maricá suburb. “In Rio, I would be begging on the streets,” says Marques Ferreira. “Here, I have a quality of life that most poor Brazilians can only dream of.”