Greening Vacant Lots Can Reduce Crime

More studies and news backing up our belief that nature heals and unifies: Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a study this week in the journal Injury Prevention that says cleaning and greening empty lots can make people feel safer.

The study reports:

Vacant lots are often overgrown with unwanted vegetation and filled with trash, making them attractive places to hide illegal guns, conduct illegal activities such as drug sales and prostitution, and engage in violent crime. There is some evidence that greening vacant lots is associated with reductions in violent crime.

People around the intervention vacant lots reported feeling significantly safer after greening compared with those living around control vacant lots.

In this study, greening was associated with reductions in certain gun crimes and improvements in residents’ perceptions of safety.

The Atlantic notes also that:

The study builds on the previous work of one its main authors, who analyzed thousands of greened and non-greened empty lots over the course of more than a decade and found significant decreases in gun assaults around the areas that had been greened.

This is great news for us, as we are always actively looking for quantitative data that proves how greenspaces can heal and unify urban neighborhoods. In 2012, we launched a new grant program to capture empirical data that seeks to scientifically understand the human impact of experiencing such open, nature-based places in cities. Of particular interest for study is the role of these urban greenspaces in human resilience and well-being, from individual consequence, to greater life context, to economic impact. Quantitative research will be conducted from 2013-2018. Stay tuned for more!