Gregory Bushman, Michelle C. Kondo, Laney A. Rupp, Bernadette C. Hohl, Catherine H. Gong, Marc A. Zimmerman
Land banks across the United States are managing expanding vacant property inventories. By maintaining vacant properties and engaging residents in the process, land banks facilitate processes integral to building safe neighborhoods and may play a role in violence prevention. Using generalized additive mixed model regression, adjusted for spatial and temporal dependencies, we examined whether land bank ownership and stewardship of vacant properties in Flint, Michigan were associated with trends in serious, violent, and firearm-involved crime, between 2015 and 2018. We tested for differences in trends in crime density between properties owned by the Genesee County Land Bank Authority (GCLBA; n = 7151) and comparison properties not owned by the land bank (n = 6,245). In addition, we tested for differences in crime density trends between vacant properties that received different levels of land bank stewardship, including biannual mowing, GCLBA standard stewardship, and GCLBA-sponsored community-engaged stewardship. We found that GCLBA ownership was associated with net declines in densities of all types of crime and violence, over time, relative to properties not owned by the GCLBA. When we distinguished between levels of stewardship, we found that GCLBA stewardship, both with and without community engagement, was associated with net declines in serious and violent crime relative to comparison properties. Only community-engaged GCLBA stewardship was associated with declines in firearm-involved crime and firearm-involved crime with a youth victim over time, relative to comparison properties. Land bank stewardship of vacant properties may be protective against crime, violence, and youth victimization in legacy cities like Flint, MI that experience high rates of vacant properties and violent crime.
Keywords: violence prevention, firearm-involved crime, youth victimization