The transformation from a manufacturing economy to one based heavily on services and technology has resulted in the depopulation and impoverishment of communities that have depended primarily on their industrial bases. Consequent blight and neglect, coupled with a lack of opportunities for youth with high school educations or less, have resulted in elevated rates of youth violence in many affected cities. The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) will study the effects of improving vacant properties on violence, property crimes and intentional injuries among youth in Flint, MI, Youngstown, OH and Camden, NJ. We will compare a community and youth-engaged approach to maintaining and improving vacant properties to similar maintenance implemented by contractors from outside the neighborhoods. We will assign properties to receive community-engaged or professional maintenance and compare the effects of these two conditions to vacant lots that are unimproved. We will also conduct a three-phased implementation study that will involve documenting the development of greening activities in Camden, NJ, and survey over 100 communities nationwide who have implemented greening programs about their experiences and lessons learned in creating their programs and engaging youth in the process.
The aims of the Center are to: 1) implement and evaluate community-level strategies in Flint and Youngstown and analyze the relationship between changes in the physical environment and 10-24 year old youth violence; 2) test alternative approaches to greening, contrasting professional maintenance with youth engagement through intergenerational collaboration in Flint and Youngstown on police incidents, youth intentional injury, parcel assessment of nearby properties, and resident survey responses; 3) document the process of community readiness and capacity needs for implementation of a greening program in Camden, NJ; 4) identify lessons learned that facilitate or hinder development of community and youth engaged greening programs, and disseminate the results of our research to local, state, and national audiences through a wide variety of venues, including a freely available implementation guide. The MI-YVPC is a partnership among the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, the Center for Community Progress, and land banks, economic development organizations, health departments, hospitals, police departments and community-based organizations in each city.
The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) will study the effects of vacant property improvements on violence, property crimes and intentional injuries among youth in Flint, MI, Youngstown, OH and Camden, NJ. We will assign properties to receive community-engaged or professional maintenance and compare the effects of these two conditions to vacant lots that are unimproved. We will also identify federal, state and local policies that facilitate or hinder community engagement in greening.
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