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Individual Highlight

Economic benefits from violence reduction associated with remediation of abandoned buildings and vacant lot greening

Photo of Photos of remediated buildings and vacant lots. Photos of remediated buildings and vacant lots. Snapshot : Abandoned buildings and vacant lots are blighted spaces seen daily by many urban residents and may create physical opportunities for violence by sheltering illegal activity and illegal firearms. A study by a Forest Service scientist and her research partners found that in an urban area, blight remediation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots can be economically beneficial as it is related to reductions in firearm violence and its associated costs.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kondo, Ph.D., Michelle 
Research Location : Philadelphia, Penn.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1222

Summary

Blight remediation of abandoned buildings, such as the addition of new doors and windows; and greening of vacant lots related to storm water management and planting community gardens, can give urban areas a healthier sense of community. In turn, it makes these areas less appealing for criminal activity. Forest Service researchers analyzed the impacts and economic returns on investment of urban blight remediation programs involving 5,112 abandoned buildings and vacant lots as related to occurrences of firearm and non-firearm violence. Abandoned building remediation was associated with a 39 percent reduction in firearm violence. Relatedly, vacant lot greening was related to a 4.6 percent reduction in firearm violence. For every dollar spent on abandoned building remediation, taxpayers saved $5 through reduced firearm violence. Societal benefits of the same action resulted in $79 saved per dollar invested. For every dollar spent on vacant lot remediation, taxpayers and society benefited to the effect of $26 and $333, respectively. Urban blight remediation programs can be cost-beneficial strategies that significantly and sustainably reduce firearm violence.