Neighborhood Blighted Property Removal and 311 Calls for Non-Emergency Services: A Test of a Marker of Social Control

Image of a bicycle on a road.

Community collective efficacy, or a community’s ability to mobilize and realize shared goals, has been linked to positive health outcomes, lower crime and violence, and residents’ emotional connection to their community. Measuring collective efficacy with existing survey-based measures is resource-intensive and requires access and engagement with large representative samples. Removal of vacant land and homes in communities may lead to decreased community violence, but the mechanisms through which this occurs is not clear. Changes in collective efficacy may be one potential mechanism. This study examined the impact of blighted property remediation on non-emergency calls and, in this, evaluating the use of 311 data as a potential geographically specific, low-cost and longitudinal measure of collective efficacy.

  • Vacant lot remediation did not have a significant impact on 311 call volume, as theoretically purported.
  • While there is a need for population-based, low cost, longitudinal methods for capturing community social capital and its components such as collective efficacy, municipal 311 data may not be the best marker of collective efficacy in a community. The nature of 311 calls and structural and historic factors at play in both the concentration of vacant properties in communities and residents’ willingness to call must be considered.

Stay Connected