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Am J Community Psychol. 2018 Sep;62(1-2):101-109. doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12270. Epub 2018 Sep 14.

Busy Streets Theory: The Effects of Community-engaged Greening on Violence.

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School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Michigan Public Health Institute, Okemos, MI, USA.
Division of Violence Prevention, NCIPC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Genesee County Land Bank, Flint, MI, USA.
School of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Lack of maintenance on vacant neighborhood lots is associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress for nearby residents. Overgrown grasses and dense brush provide hiding spots for criminals and space to conduct illicit activities. This study builds upon previous research by investigating greening programs that engage community members to conduct routine maintenance on vacant lots within their neighborhoods. The Clean & Green program is a community-based solution that facilitates resident-driven routine maintenance of vacant lots in a midsized, Midwestern city. We use mixed effects regression to compare assault and violent crime counts on streets where vacant lot(s) are maintained by community members (N = 216) versus streets where vacant lots were left alone (N = 446) over a 5-year timeframe (2009-2013). Street segments with vacant lots maintained through the Clean & Green program had nearly 40% fewer assaults and violent crimes than street segments with vacant, abandoned lots, which held across 4 years with a large sample and efforts to test counterfactual explanations. Community-engaged greening programs may not only provide a solution to vacant lot maintenance, but also work as a crime prevention or reduction strategy. Engaging the community to maintain vacant lots in their neighborhood reduces costs and may increase the sustainability of the program.


Community improvement; Crime prevention; Greening hypothesis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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