Houses such as this are known as “palafitas,” or stilt houses. They are built with whatever materials are available in areas of the city that were not desirable roughly 100 years ago, but which are now a short walk from the main commercial part of Recife. The original settlers were freed slaves who sought work in the city, but weren’t able to obtain better housing locations. Houses such as this flood frequently when the tide is high. The water is polluted and it brings rats and other waste into the dwellings.