André Albuquerque founded Terra Nova as a social enterprise committed to the sustainable regularization of illegally occupied properties in urban areas. Terra Nova acts as an intermediary between legal land owners and land occupiers, to discover a positive solution for both sides. Regularization of these dwellings has usually depended on actions by the public sector, which is overwhelmed and underfinanced. Government policies, when carried out, have been restricted to expropriations and urbanization services.
Regularizing land ownership is expensive and not an attractive priority for politicians. Terra Nova was founded to resolve conflicts that had dragged on in the courts for years. The land regularization process brings a final resolution to the conflict between landowners and occupants. Property rights are transferred to the occupants after payment of an indemnity, and the title deed goes to the current occupants of the plots. Landowners are exempted from having to pay taxes accruing on the occupied area. For each plot of land negotiated, 40% of the indemnity payment goes to Terra Nova and 20% into a clearance fund used for projects within a community. The remainder goes to the original property owner, who accepts the deal, even if depreciated, to avoid long court cases that languish in the judicial system and rarely guarantee the return of the property.
In all the communities regularized by Terra Nova, the quality of life for low-income families has improved. When title deeds are awarded the local community government starts to supply water, electricity, a postal code, basic sanitation and public transport to the residents. This partnership represents a historic milestone in the country, as the state changes its role from provider to supporting player in an initiative promoting improvement in the lives of those most in need. Terra Nova directly negotiates with the public authorities for structural improvements in the regularized neighbourhoods, and indirectly by encouraging the formation of neighbourhood associations.