Foreclosures, Vacancy and Crime

Journal Article by Lin Cui, Randall Walsh
October 2014

University Center for Social and Urban Research   (Pittsburgh)

This paper examines the impact of residential foreclosures and vacancies on violent and property crime, using data from the Pittsburgh Neighborhod and Community Information Service. To overcome confounding factors, a difference-in-difference research design is applied to a unique data set containing geocoded foreclosure and crime data from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Results indicate that while foreclosure alone has no effect on crime, violent crime rates increase by roughly 19% once the foreclosed home becomes vacant -an effect that increases with length of vacancy. We find weak evidence suggesting a potential vacancy effect for property crime that is much lower in magnitude.