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Philadelphia Study Shows Repairing Vacant Houses Reduces Crime

A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently looked at data from the Philadelphia police department and its Department of Licenses and Inspections to examine the correlation between crime and vacant, run-down housing. They found that the rates of drug and violent crimes decreased when property owners were compliant with city ordinances by replacing broken windows and doors.

Within a year of the repairs being made, the properties saw, on average, approximately 19 percent fewer assaults and 39 percent fewer weapons-related offenses. There was also a significant reduction in “nuisance crimes,” such as disorderly conduct and vandalism.

Efforts on a local level

Philadelphia city council passed an ordinance in 2011 requiring property owners to maintain functional windows and doors after many had left their vacant homes to wallow in disrepair in the aftermath of the housing crash of 2008. City lawmakers were operating under the assumption that houses that did not look occupied would be more attractive for criminal activity and would deter other potential homeowners from moving in.

Approximately 30 percent of the houses affected by the ordinance between 2011 and 2013 complied with the city’s repair requests, and the crime rates around those properties were lower comparatively than those that were not compliant.

This is not the first time the “broken windows” theory has been used in major American cities, but it does provide further evidence that such efforts do make a difference in deterring violent crime in urban areas. When people are able to take pride in where they live, it’s amazing to witness the positive things that can happen as a result.

If you are dealing with a criminal law issue in the Reading area, don’t hesitate to consult skilled attorney David R. Eshelman.

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