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Penn study finds with vacant lots greened, residents feel safer
Date:8/7/2012

PHILADELPHIA Greening vacant lots may make neighborhood residents feel safer and may be associated with reductions in certain gun crimes, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Results show that residents living near greened vacant lots feel safer than those near non-greened sites. Additionally, researchers noted that incidents of police-reported crimes may be reduced after greening. The results expand upon previous studies and are the next step in helping researchers understand the full impact of vacant lot greening on crime, safety, and health. Full results of the study were published online this week in Injury Prevention.

"Vacant lot greening changes the physical environment of a neighborhood from one that may promote crime and fear to one that may reduce crime and make people feel safer," said lead author Eugenia C. Garvin, MD, a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. "Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion."

The study is the first to use a randomized controlled trial design - the gold standard in scientific research - to examine the effects of vacant lot greening. Researchers randomly selected two clusters of vacant lots one cluster which was later greened, and one control cluster which was not. The team worked with members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society who performed greening of select vacant lots by removing debris, planting grass and trees, building fences, and performing regular maintenance every two weeks.

"Philadelphia LandCare has helped transform thousands of vacant lots in key neighborhoods across the city," said Bob Grossmann, directo
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Contact: Katie Delach
katie.delach@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5964
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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