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The Impact of the Public Housing Demolition Process on Violent Crime in Pittsburgh, PA

Casas, Andrea (2023) The Impact of the Public Housing Demolition Process on Violent Crime in Pittsburgh, PA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Safe, affordable housing is a key social determinant of health. Since 1995, the US Government has invested in restructuring the national public housing infrastructure, with the goal of helping residents move into more promising residential circumstances through relocation from severely distressed public housing. In Pittsburgh, PA, the impact of this process is not fully understood. Using demographic data collected from the US Census, violent offense reports from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and data gathered and aggregated from Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, this project examined how public housing policy changes enacted in the early 1990s—policies that led to widespread displacement of public housing residents and demolition of housing developments—affected reported violent crime in Pittsburgh, PA between 1995-2015. The primary analyses use difference-in-difference analysis to detect the effect of the public housing demolition process on violent crime at the census tract level.

The analyses found that eviction of residents from, and demolition of severely distressed public housing were associated with declines in violent crime in census tracts where public housing was completely demolished (target tracts), as well as—to a lesser degree—in census tracts adjacent to the target tracts. Violent crime did not increase in any of the groups of census tracts under analysis following the interventions, reinforcing the findings of previous research that relocated public housing residents do not take violent crime to their new neighborhoods. While the methodology of this work was a key strength, limitations included a relatively small amount of data (reflected by wide confidence intervals around the regression estimates), and an absence of precise intervention dates. Severely distressed public housing was a uniquely difficult context borne of decades of misinformed and often racism-based decisions that undermined the original intent of public housing. Resident-led coalitions, in collaboration with social epidemiologists, policy analysts, and local legislators should keep a close watch on the evolution of recent efforts to restore public housing to its intended purpose, advocate for sustainable funding of initiatives that work, and communicate regularly with policy makers to ensure that the policies this dissertation evaluated will never be needed again.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Casas, Andreaandreacasas@pitt.eduaca290000-0001-9385-3456
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorSonger, Thomastjs@pitt.edutjs
Committee ChairSonger, Thomastjs@pitt.edutjs
Committee MemberAlbert, Stevensmalbert@pitt.edusmalbert
Committee MemberEl Khoudary, Samarelkhoudarys@edc.pitt.edusae25
Committee MemberFabio, Anthonyanthony.fabio@pitt.eduafabio
Committee MemberRoberts, Ericeric.roberts@pitt.eduerober19
Committee MemberYouk, Adaayouk@pitt.eduayouk
Date: 18 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2023
Approval Date: 18 May 2023
Submission Date: 4 May 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 311
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: public housing, violent crime, Pittsburgh, difference-in-difference, demolition, eviction, social epidemiology, social determinants of health
Date Deposited: 18 May 2023 23:17
Last Modified: 18 May 2023 23:17

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  • The Impact of the Public Housing Demolition Process on Violent Crime in Pittsburgh, PA. (deposited 18 May 2023 23:17) [Currently Displayed]


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