This study built on our core research project completed in 2015-2020, which focused on engaging communities in maintaining and beautifying vacant lots to prevent youth violence. We expanded this study to evaluate the effects of vacant lot greening strategies (i.e., mowing, side lot purchases) on more outcomes, including firearm violence and child maltreatment prevention. We also pilot-tested strategies to prevent illegal dumping, which our community partners identified as a key barrier to their greening work.
The goals of this research were to:
- Pilot test community-driven illegal dumping prevention strategies in Flint, MI, and Camden, NJ.
- Expand analysis of vacant lot greening and its effects for firearm violence and child maltreatment prevention.
- Conduct case studies of exemplar greening programs to identify their best practices.
- Translate and disseminate our findings via a comprehensive Vacant Land Online Resource Center in partnership with the Center for Community Progress.
Our Community Partners
Genesee County Land Bank Authority (Flint, Michigan)
Since its founding in 2002, the Genesee County Land Bank Authority (GCLBA) has worked to stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods in Flint, Michigan. The Land Bank operates the Clean & Green program, which involves community groups in maintaining and beautifying vacant properties across the city.
Clean & Green groups and the land bank's professional maintenance crews have identified illegal dumping as among the most critical barriers to their work. In 2021, the GCLBA removed over 500 tons of illegally dumped trash from dozens of problem sites across the city. The GCLBA worked closely with our team to pilot-test low-cost environmental design strategies like boulders, solar lights, and signage to prevent dumping. We also evaluated the effects of their vacant property maintenance work and Side Lots Sales programs on youth violence outcomes.
Camden Community Partnership (Camden, New Jersey)
Camden Community Partnership (CCP) brings together public and private organizations to catalyze sustainable economic revitalization. CCP has been a national leader in illegal dumping prevention, pioneering strategies to address this key challenge to community revitalization. Their participatory dumping prevention programs have used place-making to convert deteriorated vacant lots into vibrant spaces via the Connect the Lots initiative. They also used public art to transform vacant lots targeted for dumping alongside key transit corridors into community gathering spaces through A New View Initiative. CCP also convenes the Camden dumping prevention task force, which includes local governmental and non-profit partners. Through our supplement project, we worked closely with CCP and the dumping task force to pilot-test community-driven prevention strategies (i.e., lighting, cameras, signage, landscaping, murals) on chronic dumpsites across the city.
We also partnered with Rutgers University, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Community Progress to implement the study and disseminate and translate our findings via a Vacant Land Online Resource Center.
School of Public Health
Illegal Dumping Study Findings_For Dissemination by Laney Rupp