Neighborhoods and Violence in the Housing Crisis

Henry Gomory
Matthew Desmond, Harvard University

America is in the midst of a housing crisis. Rents are less affordable than ever, eviction has become commonplace, and even homeowners face high costs. Despite the severity of the situation, there has been no systematic analysis of how these housing problems affect neighborhood health and crime. Using data on evictions, foreclosures, crime incidents, and social organization in Boston and Chicago, this paper shows that the rate of forced moves in a neighborhood is highly associated with its rate of violent crime. Furthermore, since Black neighborhoods have vastly higher rates of forced moves, accounting for them dramatically decreases Black-white disparities in violent crime rates. Forced mobility is also associated with lower rates of social organization, but it is not clear whether social factors like collective efficacy mediate this relationship. Although more research is necessary, these findings suggest that eviction and foreclosure may be key dimensions of Black neighborhood disadvantage.

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 Presented in Session 236. Neighborhood Effects and Inequality