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Foreclosures and Crime: A Space-Time Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
Megan Cahill Ph.D., Kathy Pettit MPP, Avi Bhati Ph.D., Mitch Downey, Leah Hendey, Dwight Pope, Sophie Litschwartz
This study examined the interaction of housing foreclosures and crime levels in Washington, DC, and Miami, FL, during the nationwide housing crisis of the late 2000s.
Overall, the analysis indicates that any relationship between foreclosures and crime exists because both foreclosures and crime happen in disadvantaged neighborhoods. An effect of foreclosure on crime was statistically significant in only one model, i.e., foreclosure sales and violent crime in Miami. In other models, the effect of foreclosures on crimes was insignificant. The effect of nearby foreclosures on adjacent areas was not significant in any of the models. Given this evidence, there is no reason to believe that concentrated housing foreclosures in the late 2000s, were directly related to significant increases in crime during that period, at least in DC and Miami. The study speculates that on a small scale, such as by individual property or by block, a relationship between foreclosures and crime could exist, but it is unlikely to be widespread. Any policy responses should address wider community problems or disadvantage that likely lead to both a high number of foreclosures and crime, but with no direct link to one another. The study methodology involved simultaneously modeling the temporal and spatial effects of foreclosures on neighborhood crime levels, as well as the effects of crime on neighborhood foreclosure rates. The effects of crime on foreclosures were modeled to control for a possible effect in that direction. 28 figures, 9 tables, 81 references, and appended details on data analysis
Date Created: March 15, 2015