Vacant Lot Remediation and Crime Reduction

Gun violence in the United States is higher than in any other developed nation and the majority of fatal violence committed in the United States involves firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 100,000 people die from gun-related violence in the U.S. every year.

Clearing an overgrown vacant lot.

A study published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University shows that remediating vacant lots can dramatically affect both perceptions of crime and vandalism, and the acts themselves. Neighborhoods where vacant lots were cleaned up experienced a 20% reduction in gun violence, 22% reduction in burglaries, and 30% reduction in nuisances like noise complaints and illegal dumping.

In order to conduct this study, the researchers compared remediated lots to a randomly selected group of lots that had not been treated. The group evaluated Philadelphia Police Department firearm violence reports 18 months leading up to and following the restoration. The study also included repeated interviewers with randomly selected residents living near the project.

The researchers found that not only does vacant lot remediation reduce crime itself, it improves community members’ perceptions of the neighborhood. Residents reported feeling much safer post-remediation; 58% had fewer security concerns when leaving their homes. Additionally, more than 75% said they significantly increased use of their outside spaces for relaxing and socializing.

A LandCare contractor working to remediate a small parcel of land by mowing grass.

This research shows that communities can substantially reduce crime by changing conditions of the built environmental and making places less attractive to crime. The study yields proof that quick, inexpensive tactics can have dramatic and long-lasting effects on communities. The strategy also generates a high return on investment and doesn’t displace long-term residents.

According to the U.S. News and World  Report’s website, Pittsburgh has on average lower crime rates than the national average. However, as in any metropolitan area, crime does still exist. Here at Grounded Strategies, we are passionate about creating stronger communities and implementing long-lasting change. Improving residents’ perception of their community is big reason why we do the work that we do, and reducing crime is an added bonus. This research is just another reason we love our work!



“Adding Windows to Vacant Houses and Clearing Vacant Lots Reduces Gun Violence, Saves Money.” Penn Medicine News, University of Pennsylvania, 13 Oct. 2016,

Berger, Michele. “Cleaning up Vacant Lots Makes Neighborhoods Safer.” PennToday, University of Pennsylvania, 8 Mar. 2018,

“How Safe Is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2017,

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