The four maps shows how crime patterns shifted from 2002 to 2008 as the East Capitol public housing project in Washington was replaced by the Capitol Gateway HOPE VI redevelopment. The darker the shadings on the map, the greater the prevalence of crime.
Source: Megan Cahill article in Cityscape, as reproduced on AtlanticCities.com
Anyone who has visited old public housing projects and completed HOPE VI redevelopment can see that the rebuilt areas are generally much better places to live. HOPE VI developments tend to be more human scale in their design. They avoid creating no-man's-lands where residents may end up victimized. HOPE VI developments often have houses or apartments with individual doorways rather than the common stairways that proved hard to supervise in many public housing projects from the 1960s and 1970s.
For these and other reasons, HOPE VI is generally regarded as a success. But sometimes, relocation of residents from the public housing towers being demolished has brought problems to neighborhoods that some of the tenants moved to, New Urban News reported in March 2003.
Now a study in Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research examines systematically the effects of HOPE VI on crime in parts of Washington and Milwaukee. Meagan Cahill and other researchers at the Urban Institute looked at what happened during and after the reconstruction of Washington's Capitol Gateway and Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg public housing and three public housing sites on the North Side of Milwaukee.
In both cities, the researchers watched crime fall – at the sites themselves and in the neighborhoods around them.
“I actually honestly was pretty surprised that it was that dramatic,” Cahill says of the results. “I think they are pretty impressive.”
At Capper/Carrollsburg, Badger notes, crime "didn't just relocate. Much of it disappeared."
In Milwaukee, a concerted effort was made to get the original tenants back into the redeveloped areas as soon as parts of the projects had been replaced. Even with many of the same residents, the reconstituted developments registered a drop in crime.
In Washington, redevelopment took much longer, and many of the tenants dispersed. This made it harder for the researchers to determine exactly where they ended up living and whether much crime was simply transferred to other neighborhoods. But the researchers found it reassuring that the areas around the two Washington projects have generally become safer.
Though a variety of factors probably contributed to the improvements, Cahill says the Urban Institute study indicates that "redevelopment under HOPE VI does indeed lead to diffusion of crime reduction."
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