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  of Public Health
  Columbia University
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  New York, NY 10032

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Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies
Environmental and Policy Change: Community Enforcement

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> Vallejo Fighting Back Partnership Comprehensive Neighborhood Revitalization Program

> Neighborhoods, USA

> Pasadena California Neighborhood Revitalization Program

> Neighborhood Revitalization Presentation

The concept of using a "neighborhood revitalization" approach to address quality of life issues including crime and safety and nuisance abatement has a long history in the US. A comprehensive neighborhood revitalization framework utilizes crime prevention strategies including "opportunity blocking," targeting of "hot spots" and addressing both supply side and demand side factors that facilitate criminal activity.  Opportunity blocking involves making changes to places to make crime more difficult to carry out, more risky in terms of getting caught, less rewarding financially and more heavily sanctioned.  Hot spots focus on locations that have higher levels of criminal or nuisance- related behavior. Demand side strategies address human needs, while supply side strategies address concerns related to availability of things like drugs and firearms.

Comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategies work at three levels:

1)     Addressing "broken windows" by engaging in the improvement of the physical environment in which residents work and play: The broken window theory developed by Wilson and Kelling suggest that if windows, or other symptoms of neighborhood disorganization, are left unrepaired, people will come to believe that no one cares about the area where the disorganization is occurring, inviting additional criminal activity. Neighborhood revitalization makes a point of repairing the physical environment, making it less likely to attract criminal activity.

2)     The development of social capital within the targeted neighborhood: Social capital is the glue that holds neighborhoods together.  Strengthening social capital includes developing friendships, building mutual trust and learning to work together for the betterment of the community. In the case of neighborhood revitalization work, social capital development usually involves building some sort of neighborhood association or block watch program to facilitate social cohesion, help residents learn how to identify and resist crime and maintain the neighborhood's physical environment.

3)     Strengthening the families and individuals that reside in neighborhoods: Residents that struggle financially and have considerable social service needs often inhabit depressed and challenged areas. Neighborhoods are as strong as the residents who live in them.  Assisting families with child care, employment, mental health and substance abuse services builds human infrastructure and is essential to maintaining a strong neighborhood.

Neighborhood revitalization strategies that have been shown to be effective incorporate the best of research-based crime prevention and strong resident partnerships with community-based organizations committed to improving residents' quality of life.  However, strategies that focus on only one or two of the components above are less likely to establish sustained change in the neighborhood.  Establishing a common vision with clear goals and objectives among all vested interests has been found to be central.  Neighborhood revitalization work takes time.  Many projects can last a year or more depending on the geographic size of the target area chosen for revitalization.  


Neighborhood revitalization strategies that incorporate the best of research-based crime prevention and a strong resident partnership with community organizations committed to improving residents quality of life have been shown to "work.

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> Preventing crime: What works, what doesn't, what's promising

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Featured Strategies
> Nuisance Abatement Laws to Improve Community Conditions


copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.