Project Title: Place matters - Adaptable Solutions to Violence at the Community Level Violence is a leading health burden in the U.S. and globally, and plays a significant role in shaping population health and health disparities, given both immediate and long-term consequences.4 Remediation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots has been shown to be an effective and cost-beneficial solution to violence, especially firearm violence, in U.S. cities.9-11 This place-based blight remediation may be an effective population-based strategy for primary prevention of serious and lethal violence among youth but few studies have tested this approach among youth, specifically.12 Furthermore, it may have an impact on violence in the home or family violence, including child abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV); but no studies have examined this effect, although research on other forms of neighborhood disorder and the nature of family violence suggest that it may have a substantial impact.15 The objective of the proposed project aims to conduct the first community-level randomized controlled trial aimed at blight remediation for youth and family violence prevention. Our long-term goal is to define and address the role of community infrastructure and its potential impact on multiple forms of violence, and to identify potential buffers that may be included in prevention efforts. Our central hypothesis is that blight remediation will provide fewer locations for illegal weapons storage but will also improve residential sense of community and social control, and reduce stress among residents. This proposal is feasible because it leverages our ongoing evaluation of blight reduction efforts by the City of New Orleans and ongoing neighborhood-based violence research by the PIs. To address the current research gaps and achieve our objectives, we propose to conduct a cluster randomized trial with 600 lots and two intervention arms (n=150 lots in each arm)?one without buildings/structures and greened and one greened and with buildings/structures treated?propensity score matched 1:1 to control lots (n=300) across four New Orleans communities experiencing high rates of violence. A qualitative evaluation will also be conducted to examine the personal impact of blight remediation strategies. Confirmation of our hypotheses that reduction of neighborhood blight impacts not only youth violence (including serious and lethal) but also child abuse and IPV will provide critical information for policy and prevention efforts. Furthermore, examination of potential structural buffers or deterrents will aid in scaling up and translation of this highly innovative community-level program as well as providing further evidence for the interaction between multiple neighborhood conditions on violence-related outcomes.
This proposed project will have a significant societal benefit in several ways. By remediating and maintaining abandoned houses across New Orleans, and studying the impact on violence of this remediation, the project's findings will contribute to the local and national effort to reduce morbidity, mortality, and disability resulting from blighted urban environments in US cities. The proposed research will also provide novel information on the role of the proposed community-level family and youth violence reduction strategy, providing a greater understanding of practical abandoned building remediation policies that ultimately could lead to the prevention of violence-related injuries and deaths.