Two new reports make a valuable contribution to existing research on the relationship between crime rates and assisted housing programs. The first study found no conclusive evidence that an increase in voucher holders leads to an increase in crime. The second found that public housing redevelopment contributes to a reduction of crime within the development itself and in adjacent communities.
In Memphis Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?, researchers at New York University’s Furman Center tracked voucher holders and their impact on neighborhood crime. Using neighborhood-level data for 10 cities across the nation, the authors refute the notion that rising numbers of voucher holders contribute to increasing rates of neighborhood crime. Using data from city police departments and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a consortium of neighborhood data providers, they also found no association between the arrival of voucher holders in a neighborhood and the incidence of crime one year later. However, they noted a pattern of voucher holders moving to neighborhoods with pre-existing elevated or rising crime levels, an area for future research.
In Movin’ out: Crime Displacement and HUD’s HOPE VI Initiative, Urban Institute investigators examined the impact of three HOPE VI projects on crime levels during and following the redevelopment period. They specifically evaluated the possibility of crime displacement—that is, a public housing redevelopment effort merely moves criminal activity to adjacent neighborhoods, not reduces crime overall.
Using address-level police data, the researchers tracked crime levels during four distinct stages of redevelopment projects in Milwaukee and Washington, DC. They found minimal evidence of crime displacement to adjacent neighborhoods. In Milwaukee, they noted that redevelopment seemed to reduce the frequency of crime over time, though the positive impact was delayed until well after project completion. Similar reduction took place in Washington, DC, with faster falling crime levels during the early stages of redevelopment. Overall, the authors found that the pace of crime reduction is likely to increase with time, but cautioned that the study had a short time frame and that additional research requires longer-term scope.
To read Memphis Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?, go to: http://furmancenter.org/research/publications/
Movin’ Out: Crime and HUD’s HOPE VI Initiative is at: http://www.urban.org/publications/412385.html