Table of Contents
ISRN Public Health
Volume 2012, Article ID 246142, 9 pages
Research Article

Vacant Properties and Violence in Neighborhoods

1Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
2Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Received 24 August 2012; Accepted 10 September 2012

Academic Editors: R. E. Fullilove, C. Rissel, and M. H. Stigler

Copyright © 2012 Charles C. Branas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. Violence remains a significant public health issue in the United States. To determine if urban vacant properties were associated with an increased risk of assaultive violence and if this association was modified by important neighborhood institutions (e.g., schools, parks/playgrounds, police stations, and alcohol outlets). Methods. Longitudinal ecologic study of all 1816 block groups in Philadelphia. Aggravated assault and vacant property data were compiled yearly from 2002 to 2006 and linked to block groups. A mixed effects negative binomial regression model examined the association of vacant properties and assaults between and within block groups. Results. Among all block groups, 84% experienced at least one vacant property, 89% at least one aggravated assault, and 64% at least one gun assault. Between block groups, the risk of aggravated assault increased 18% for every category shift of vacant properties (IRR 1.18, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.25, ). Parks/playgrounds and alcohol outlets potentially modified the association between vacant properties and aggravated assaults but only at low levels of vacancy. Conclusions. Increasing levels of vacancy were associated with increased risk of assaultive violence in urban block groups.