In Chicago and Atlanta, public housing tear-downs reduce crime
Crime declined throughout Chicago and Atlanta as those two cities demolished public housing projects and helped families relocate with vouchers. An Urban Institute-Emory University study found that tearing down much of Chicago’s public housing and relocating residents with vouchers was associated with a 1 percent decrease in violent crimes citywide between 2000 and 2008. In Atlanta, a similar overhaul in public housing was associated with a decrease of 0.7 percent in violent crimes between 2002 and 2009.
Many of the neighborhoods that public housing tenants moved to did not see crime increase, said the study, “Public Housing Transformation and Crime: Making the Case for Responsible Relocation.” Crime rates increased somewhat in neighborhoods where substantial numbers of relocated tenants settled.
Susan Popkin, the project’s lead investigator, said the study confirms “the need for responsible relocation strategies, like those now used in Chicago and Atlanta, that offer former residents a real choice of housing and neighborhoods, and provide long-term support to them once they leave public housing."