Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction

CBCR in Action

SITE OVERVIEW    AUSTIN | TEXAS

Target Area: East Riverside/Oltorf neighborhood • Population: 20,289
Fiscal Agent: City of Austin
Research Partner: The University of Texas at Austin
Crime Concerns: Violence and property crime
CBCR Funding Year: 2017 Planning and Implementation

Neighborhood Profile 

The East Riverside/Oltorf neighborhood—located near downtown Austin, the University of Texas and other colleges, and the airport—has a mix of densely populated housing complexes and undeveloped plots. Ninety percent of the target area residences are renter occupied by college and university students and low-income families: The current average median household income is $23,871. The majority of units are aged and in need of repair, and the area has many check cashing/pay-day loan and pawn shops but few assets such as medical facilities or grocery stores.

Riverside’s location, combined with a lack of available property remaining in Austin’s downtown core, has resulted in a demand for high-dollar housing and business development in and around the target area. Development is beginning to push the area’s homeless population who live in many established camps to open areas, tunnels and bridges, and many of the criminal offenses are perpetrated by those without means against their new affluent neighbors.  

Approximately 4 percent of all crime in Austin occurs in the CBCR target area, although it has just 2.1 percent of the city’s population and less than 1 percent of its land area. From 2013 to 2016, the area accounted for 10 percent of the murders citywide, 7.7 percent of robbery by assault, and 7.2 percent of burglaries.

The agendas of the City of Austin, the University of Texas and the Riverside neighborhood align in prioritizing student and public safety, affordability, community trust and a complete social services infrastructure.

Planning Process

The City of Austin and the principal investigator for the East Riverside/Oltorf Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (CBCR) program, Dr. David Springer at the University of Texas, have partnered in the past to develop innovative community-based crime solutions in the award-winning “Restore Rundberg” program, created with a CBCR FY2012 grant. For the East Riverside/Oltorf program, the overarching goals are to reduce violent and property crime, increase trust, and improve community safety as part of a comprehensive strategy to advance the revitalization of the Riverside neighborhood. The four objectives:

  • Better integrate crime control efforts with revitalization strategies. Options might include violence reduction, problem-oriented policing, hot spot policing, and data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety, each paired with proven social services, engagement, and/or education programs. 
  • Increase community and resident engagement in shaping and sustaining crime prevention and revitalization efforts. The team will complete two waves of surveys and engage the community with discussion of next steps, which may include trust-building retreats with community members and police officers, as well as resident participation in revitalization efforts.
  • Improve the use of data and research to problem solve and guide program strategy. The team will expand current research and engagement by U.T. Austin student volunteers, conduct ongoing assessment of program activities with bi-monthly meetings, and compare changes in reported crime, calls for service and disorder in the target area with other hot spot areas and citywide trends.
  • Promote sustainable collaboration with cross-sector partners to tackle problems from multiple angles. The team will use a 2005 neighborhood plan and city and transportation planning for needs assessment and then provide residents with training to increase participation and collaborate with the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at U.T. Austin, and other community and economic development partners.

Other Key Partners                                       

The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs, U.T. Austin RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, U.T. Austin School of Social Work, the City of Austin Police Department, Fire Department, Code Compliance, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, Economic Development, and Health and Human Services, Austin Travis County Integral Care, the East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Contact Team and Tollgate Condominium Home Owners Association 

 

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