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Impact of Foreclosures on Neighborhood Crime

NCJ Number
Ingrid G. Ellen
Date Published
April 2014
45 pages
This report presents three papers from a project that examined whether there was a link between the crime rate and the housing foreclosure rate in five cities during the late 2000s.
One paper uses point-specific, longitudinal crime and foreclosure data from New York City in examining how foreclosures affected crime on an individual blockface (an individual street segment that includes properties on both sides of the street). Although much of the association between foreclosures and crime can be explained by both occurring on similar blockfaces, marginal foreclosures on a blockface led to a small number of additional violent and public-order crimes. As expected, effects are largest for foreclosed properties that go all the way through the foreclosure process to an auction. tenuated. When estimating threshold-level models, foreclosures were found to have a larger effect on crime after three foreclosures on the block. Two of the three papers focused on identifying mechanisms for the interaction of foreclosures and crime, extending the analysis to four other cities to test for generalizability. One paper focused on Chicago. The results were similar to thoe in New York City, i.e., an increase in the number of properties in foreclosure apparently increased total crime and violent and public-order offenses in particular. In addition, estimates suggest that foreclosures change crime locations; they increase crime that occurs inside residences while reducing crime on the street. The third paper addresses foreclosures and crime in five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. Overall, this study found that properties that banks take over through foreclosure are associated with higher crime, both in the census tract and on the blockface; however, among these properties, the ones on the way to foreclosure auctions were apparently the driving force in the connection between foreclosures and crime. 16 tables, 3 figures, and 14 references