Study: Blight removal had "massive" impact on drop in crime - WNEM TV 5

Study: Blight removal had "massive" impact on drop in crime

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A study by local professors found that blight removal had a dramatic impact on a drop in crime in Saginaw.

Two Saginaw Valley State University professors, Andrew Miller, associate professor of geography, and Evelyn Ravuri, professor of geography, oversaw a study that found demolition of vacant homes had a “massive” effect on a drop in major crimes.

From 2010 to 2015, major crimes in the City of Saginaw dropped by 80 percent, according to an SVSU analysis. Click here to see that.

In a similar time-frame, from 2013 to 2015, the city demolished 884 vacant homes.

“Our research shows that the demolitions are responsible for 20 percent of the decrease in crime,” he said. “That’s a highly significant finding.”

But it’s not just Saginaw that benefited from the demolitions. According to the research, Bridgeport, Buena Vista and Saginaw Township also saw a drop in crime.

“I was not expecting the demolitions to have such a significant impact on crime rates,” Ravuri said.

Miller and Ravuri worked with the City of Saginaw, the Saginaw County Crime Prevention Initiative and other partners to collect data and conduct the research.

Tim Morales, Saginaw city manager, is grateful to have evidence that the demolitions were effective.

“Through our work with SVSU, the City has statistical evidence of the impact of blight removal and proactive policing in Saginaw,” he said. “Blight removal has improved our neighborhoods through reduction of abandoned and decaying structures, which has also produced a safer city.  Without the reduction of the blighted and abandoned buildings, I don’t think Saginaw would have experienced such a sharp decline in violent crime.”  

In 2010, the most serious crimes were highly concentrated within Saginaw city limits.

Following the demolitions, the professors found that criminal activity became more widely distributed.

“The demolitions drove crime out of Saginaw, and it dispersed evenly, for the most part,” Miller said, “That’s kind of what we’re looking for. If you’re in policing, you want a more even playing field that everyone can then play on and that every police agency, if working together, can all work together to deal with. Because then, it becomes a much more manageable problem.”

For the full release on the study, click here.

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