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Looking for the Link: The Impact of Foreclosures on Neighborhood Crime Rates

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2015
2 pages
Publication Series
This NIJ Journal briefly describes three NIJ-funded studies that can assist community stakeholders in having a better understanding of the complex relationship between foreclosures and crime levels in neighborhoods.
The three studies, which used different research methods, apparently agree that foreclosures and bank-owned properties do not increase criminal activity, except in certain sections of specific U.S. cities. An examination of approximately 500 census tracts in Washington, DC, and Miami between 2003 and 2011 aggregated crime (measured as the number of violent crimes, property crimes, or both) and foreclosures (measured by the number of foreclosure sales or the number of housing units in the foreclosure process) found no statistically significant connection between foreclosure sales and crime in Washington. In Miami, only one statistically significant effect was found, i.e., a 1- percent increase in foreclosures resulted in a 0.0157-percent increase in violent crime, which was not significant. Another study examined foreclosure data from Realty Trac and robbery and burglary data from local police agencies. The data covered just over 60 cities across 29 States from 2007 to 2009. The study identified a positive correlation of foreclosures with robbery or burglary, or both, in a handful of cities; however, they found that the influence of neighborhood foreclosure rates on neighborhood crime was "highly contingent on the city under investigation." A third study mapped foreclosures and crime to "blockfaces" in New York City, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, and Philadelphia from 2004 to 2011. They found a small but statistically significant effect of multiple foreclosures on crime rates; however, the data also showed that factors other than foreclosures might have influenced the findings. Steps are suggested for preventing crime in neighborhoods affected by high rates of housing foreclosures.

Date Published: November 1, 2015