In response to a New York Times article on the role of residents and nonprofits in crime reduction, Julia Ryan, LISC’s vice president of health and safety, underscored the importance of community-led revitalization efforts to make neighborhoods safer. Ryan cited LISC research that proves such strategies work, and called for broader investment in community-based crime reduction.
The letter below was originally published in the New York Times:
‘Building Our Way Out of Crime’
To the Editor:
“Ordinary Citizens’ Unsung Role in the Crime Decline” (The Upshot, Nov. 10) adeptly describes the essential work that community nonprofits and residents do to reduce crime in neighborhoods.
Indeed, the data shows that without their efforts, violent crime doesn’t go away. The examples of vacant lots-turned-community gardens and new affordable housing are exactly what we call “building our way out of crime.”
We know that physical improvements to a neighborhood make lasting impact, particularly in very specific “hot spots.” Tactics like lighting a desolate alley, or converting a bar that’s been a magnet for violence into a food store, have proved to reduce crime by up to 40 percent, according to our research.
As the article states, the cause and effect are clear: When people’s basic needs are met, violence goes down.
But change requires working block by block, community by community. It takes collaboration, stamina, time and money, and money continues to be in woefully short supply in under-resourced neighborhoods.
It’s time we invested adequately in community-led revitalization, because the rate of return benefits everyone.