Is Crime a Real Estate Problem? A Case Study of the Neighborhood of East Liberty, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
30 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2017 Last revised: 4 Dec 2017
Date Written: October 28, 2017
This study documents an intervention designed and implemented using the tenets of community operational research (community OR) approach to address crime in East Liberty, a neighborhood in the East End of the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The intervention was implemented by a community development organization (CDO) with active engagement by the community. The multi-pronged strategy included real estate acquisition of crime hot spots, use of uniformed off-duty police, effective property management and a strengthening of the neighborhood's informal social controls. We used the community OR approach to examine both the processes and outcomes of the intervention. We found that the initiative was associated with a 49% reduction in residential crime in the neighborhood over the period 2008-2012, a trend that held steady till 2015 which represents the latest data analyzed for the present study. Evidence of the lasting impact of our strategy is that there has been little observed decay in the crime reduction even after off-duty police were withdrawn. We conclude that a community-oriented approach that addresses crime should emphasize strategies to improve and leverage the neighborhood's social cohesion and informal social controls for crime reduction to be sustainable. Similar interventions in the future may benefit from the study by conceptualizing and implementing community-engaged initiatives that are closely aligned to community OR principles.
Keywords: community operational research, hotspots, place-based, crime, collective efficacy
JEL Classification: R59
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation