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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 3 | Article 4


Rental Assistance and Crime

Volume 15, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Perceptions of Disorder, Violence, and Safety Amid the Transformation of Assisted Housing

Ann Owens
University of Southern California

This article examines how changes in assisted housing shape residents’ perceptions of disorder, violence, and safety in their neighborhoods. Past research suggests that contextual features of neighborhoods beyond crime shape perceptions, and the demolition and redevelopment of public housing or the presence of voucher users in a neighborhood may be such features. Results suggest that the demolition of public housing in Chicago neighborhoods reduced residents’ perceptions of disorder and violence. Residents did not perceive disorder or safety differently in Boston’s HOPE VI neighborhoods than in neighborhoods with or without traditional public housing, although data limitations exist. Neighborhoods with increasing numbers of voucher users did not experience rising perceptions of disorder or violence in Chicago. Boston residents perceived their neighborhoods to be less safe if more voucher users lived there, perhaps because voucher users tend to move to higher crime areas. Overall, the transformation of assisted housing appears to shape residents’ perceptions of neighborhood disorder, violence, and safety in positive or neutral ways.

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