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Crime and Building Rehabilitation or Demolition: A Dose-Response Analysis


Thousands of buildings in Cleveland, Ohio were demolished or rehabilitated since the Great Recession in the 2000s. Recent evidence suggests removing vacant and decaying buildings reduces violent and firearm-involved crime. This study examines the dose-response relationship between demolitions, rehabilitations, and crime. We use Bayesian spatiotemporal models to estimate the association of interest for five types of crime outcomes: violent crimes, violent crimes involving a firearm, drug crimes, and crimes often associated with building vacancy. We estimate associations in quarterly time periods from 2012 through 2017 in 569 hexagons approximately the size of a neighborhood (2000 feet, approximately 610 m, in diameter), stratified by vacancy level. Across vacancy levels, the majority of our models do not identify statistically significant associations between demolition and rehabilitation dose and crime incidence. However, in some cases, we identify positive associations between demolition and crime. These associations generally appeared at higher levels of demolition (2 or 3 or more demolitions) in areas characterized by medium to high levels of vacancy. We also find that the presence of a property rehabilitation is associated with an increase in drug crimes in areas with medium levels of vacancy.

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