Resident appropriation of defensible space in public housing: Implications for safety and community

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Defensible space (DS) theory proposes that the built environment can promote neighborhood safety and community by encouraging residents' appropriation of near-home space. This article examined the relationship between three different forms of resident appropriation and residents' experiences of neighborhood safety and community. Results from a survey of 91 public housing residents living in moderately defensible spaces suggested that residents who defended near-home space through territorial appropriation experienced the neighborhood as a safer, more cohesive community than did residents who did not appropriate space in this way. Residents who spent more time outside experienced the neighborhood as a safer place; however, casual social interaction in near-home space was not consistently related to outcomes. While no casual information is available from the correlational data presented here, this work takes an important step of providing empirical evidence of a systematic link between certain aspects of resident appropriation and positive outcomes. Implications for DS theory and for public housing policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-652
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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