The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, has published its results in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The team studied areas of Philadelphia where vacant lots were improved or left to rot. The result? “Greening was linked to significant reductions in gun assaults across most of Philadelphia and significant reductions in vandalism in one section of the city. Vacant lot greening was also associated with residents in certain sections of the city reporting significantly less stress and more exercise.”
“Improving the places where people live, work and play, holds great promise for changing health and safety,” says Charles C. Branas, lead author of the study. “Greening vacant lots is a low-cost, high-value approach, which may prevent certain crimes and encourage healthy activity for more people and for longer periods of time than many other approaches.”
“Dr. Branas’s study adds to the growing body of evidence that cleaned and greened lots are important elements in a revitalized community,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The City’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society enhances health and safety in addition to creating jobs and increasing property values; now we have scientific proof of the benefits of this collaboration.”
“The study by Dr. Branas and his team is fantastic news for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society [PHS], which in partnership with the City of Philadelphia has reclaimed thousands of blighted vacant lots,” said PHS President Drew Becher. “We have known that greening these lots has helped transform neighborhoods in various ways. The Penn findings reveal other significant, direct impacts of this program on the lives of residents.”
Across Philadelphia, nearly 4,500 vacant lots totaling over 7.8 million square feet were greened from 1999-2008.