Neighborhood Effects on Crime and Youth Violence
The Role of Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles
Published Jan 27, 2009
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Despite declines in youth violence nationally in the past decade, incidence of youth violence and victimization — from assaults to homicide — continue to be pressing concerns in public safety and public health. Youth violence is also a particular concern for low-income, minority communities, where poverty, family instability, and unemployment provide a fertile context for gangs and illicit drug markets. Due to the effects of youth violence and the documented association between community socioeconomic conditions and violence, officials and researchers have invested heavily in developing and examining community-level responses to youth violence. While some of these community-level approaches have shown evidence of effectiveness, they are often expensive, difficult to sustain, and hard to replicate. What community-level interventions and activities might address underlying environmental conditions that facilitate youth violence rates in communities? RAND investigators examined the impact of business improvement districts (BIDs) on crime and youth violence in Los Angeles. BIDs are self-organizing, local public-private organizations that collect assessments and invest in local-area service provisions and activities, such as place promotion, street cleaning, and public safety. Such activities can contribute to community-level attributes that might reduce crime and youth violence by increasing informal social control, reducing visible signs of disorder and blight, improving order maintenance, and providing enriched employment opportunities by facilitating overall improvements in the local business environment.