CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wheeler et al. on Housing Demolitions and Crime

Andrew Palmer WheelerDae-Young Kim and Scott W. Phillips (University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University at Buffalo, SUNY and State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Criminal Justice) have posted The Effect of Housing Demolitions on Crime in Buffalo, NY on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Objectives: From 2010 through 2015, the city of Buffalo demolished over 2,000 residences. This study examines whether those demolitions resulted in crime reductions.

Methods: Analysis was conducted at micro places matching demolished parcels to comparable control parcels with similar levels of crime. In addition, spatial panel regression models were estimated at the census tract and quarterly level, taking into account demographic characteristics of neighborhoods. 

Results: We find that at the micro place level, demolitions cause a steep drop in reported crime at the exact parcel, and result in additional crime decreases at buffers of up to 1,000 feet away. At the census tract level, results indicated that demolitions reduced Part 1 crimes, but the effect was not statistically significant across different models.

Conclusions: While concerns over crime and disorder are common for vacant houses, the evidence that housing demolitions are an effective crime reduction solution is only partially supported by the analyses here. Future research should compare demolitions in reference to other neighborhood revitalization processes.

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