Resident-led vacant lot greening and crime: Do ownership and visual condition-care matter?

Sara Hadavi, Alessandro Rigolon, Paul H. Gobster, William P. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many cities, high land vacancy has contributed to negative outcomes including visual blight, loss of sense of community and safety, and high crime rates. Although studies show that vacant lot greening programs reduce crime rates in high-vacancy areas, little is known about the impacts of resident-owner-based vacant lot repurposing initiatives on crime. We evaluated the impacts of one such initiative, the Chicago Large Lot Program, on crime reduction. Through this program, qualified property owners could purchase one or two nearby city-owned vacant lots for one dollar each. Focusing on two study sites on the South and West sides of Chicago, we performed difference-in-differences analyses to examine whether blocks with at least one purchased ‘large lot’ (n = 234) showed greater reductions in various types of crime compared to matched control blocks without large lots (n = 702) in the years following program implementation (2015–2018). We found that, starting in the second year of implementation, the program contributed to significant reductions in overall crime density as well as a few types of crime. We also found that visual condition and care of purchased lots was associated with reduced crime density in one of our study sites where the percentage of purchased lots and mean condition-care rating were more than twice as much as those of the other site. Our findings support the usefulness of vacant land repurposing programs that transfer ownership to residents, and suggest that greening activities encouraged by these programs help improve neighborhood safety and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104096
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Crime
  • Cues to care
  • Resident ownership
  • Urban greening
  • Vacant land

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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