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MSU study finds keeping vacant lots mowed has a side benefit: lower crime rates

City of Flint

A program to mow and maintain vacant lots is having a side effect in Flint: lower crime rates in those neighborhoods, including assaults, burglaries and robberies.

A Michigan State University researcher compared crime data to neighborhoods with active “clean and green” abandoned lots. He says his survey of crime stats from 2005 to 2014 shows crime rates decline as “clean and green” lots take hold.

“That was kind of the hope from the get-go,” says Richard Sadler, an urban geographer. “The study just kind of validates what they were hoping would be the case.”

Sadler says the Genesee County Land Bank works with neighborhood groups to take care of its vacant lots.

“The Clean and Green program, pound for pound, is less expensive than paying a professional mowing crew to mow all of these vacant lots,” says Sadler.

Today, more than 42% of the properties in Flint are either publicly owned or otherwise vacant. 

Sadler’s study appears online in the journal Applied Geography.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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