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Using Maps of Home Foreclosures to Understand National and Local Problems

NCJ Number
Geography & Public Safety Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 5-8
Date Published
September 2008
4 pages

This article discusses local communities' capacity to use geographic information systems (GIS) as a means of identifying emerging housing foreclosure patterns and related crime and disorder problems, so as to advise policymaking that targets these critical issues.


There are numerous examples of successful uses of GIS to inform policy and practice. At a May 2008 hearing on the Federal Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 5818), witnesses used maps of foreclosures, vacancies, and problem properties in order to make the case that foreclosures impact not only the homeowners but also neighbors and the surrounding community. They discussed the importance of using relevant, accurate data on individual communities when creating plans for foreclosure aid allocations. In another example, Case Western University's Center for Urban Poverty and Community Development is using GIS to develop a foreclosure "early warning system" for Cleveland, OH. Armed with this information, community development groups and local government can target their efforts to prevent foreclosures. Boston's (Massachusetts) foreclosure intervention team uses GIS in coordinating the activities of agencies, including the police, inspection services, and neighborhood development groups. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) uses GIS in preparing papers on the costs of foreclosures tailored to nearly 100 metropolitan areas for the provision of information to homeowners, their neighbors, lenders, investors, and local governments. In Virginia's Loudon and Fairfax Counties, law enforcement officers are targeting vacant houses on regular patrols, using maps of foreclosed properties as guides. GIS has proven to be critical in the design of cost-effective policies and practices for minimizing housing foreclosures and attendant risks for crime and disorder in affected neighborhoods. 2 figures and 17 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2008