The MI-YVPC 2020-2021 supplemental project focused on enhancing and building upon research completed in 2015-2020 to advance the science and practice of place-based youth violence prevention. We expanded our analyses to evaluate the effects of vacant lot greening strategies (i.e., mowing, side lot purchases) on new outcomes, including youth-involved firearm incidents and child maltreatment. We additionally piloted and evaluated strategies for preventing illegal dumping—which was identified as a key barrier to vacant lot greening in our 2015-2020 study.
The specific aims of this research were to:
- Expand and build upon greening strategies by pilot testing and evaluating the implementation of community- and youth-engaged illegal dumping prevention strategies in Flint, MI, and Camden, NJ.
- Expand analysis of a community-level greening approach and its effects on firearm incidents, child abuse, and neglect (and related effects on youth violence).
- Expand on our implementation study by conducting in-depth case studies of exemplar greening programs.
- Translate and disseminate the results of our research and practice to local, state, and national audiences via a comprehensive Online Vacant Land Resource Center in partnership with the Center for Community Progress.
Since its inception in 2002, the Genesee County Land Bank Authority (GCLBA) has played an active role in stabilizing neighborhoods and revitalizing the City of Flint. The Land Bank’s Clean & Green program engages community groups, including youth, in consistently cleaning, maintaining, and beautifying vacant properties. Clean & Green groups and Land Bank-employed work crews respond to illegal dumping on vacant properties, which they cited as their most pressing challenge. In 2021, the GCLBA reported removing over 500 tons of trash and illegally dumped waste from dozens of illegal dumping hotspots in their vacant lot inventory. The GCLBA worked closely with the MI-YVPC to pilot test scalable interventions to prevent illegal dumping and to evaluate the effects of their greening strategies on youth violence outcomes.
Camden, New Jersey
Camden Community Partnership (CCP) brings together public and private organizations to catalyze sustainable economic revitalization and to promote Camden as a place in which to live, to visit, and to invest. CCP’s participatory dumping prevention programs have used place-making as a tool to convert vacant and deteriorated lots into vibrant spaces via the Connect the Lots initiative. They are currently reclaiming vacant lots alongside key transit corridors to create community gathering spaces that feature public art. CCP convenes the Camden dumping task force that includes local governmental and non-profit partners. We worked closely with CCP to implement and evaluate community-driven illegal dumping prevention strategies, some of which incorporated public art.
We additionally partnered with Rutgers University, the U.S. Forest Service, and national organizations such as the Center for Community Progress to implement the study, and to disseminate and translate our findings via an Online Vacant Land Resource Center.
School of Public Health