Measuring Crime in and around Public Housing Using GIS

Measuring Crime in and around Public Housing Using GIS

Harold R. Holzman (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA), Robert A. Hyatt (Austin Peay State University, USA) and Tarl Roger Kudrick (Independent Contractor, USA)
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-453-8.ch018


For many people, the phrase “public housing” conjures up images of serious violent crime. However, the neighborhood surrounding public housing may be a greater factor in crime than the housing itself. Because most police departments do not routinely keep statistics on small parcels of land like public housing developments or neighborhoods, measuring the incidence of crime in public housing has proved difficult. Consequently, there is little hard evidence with respect to whether public housing is more or less crime-ridden than the neighborhoods that surround it. This chapter explores the application of geographic information systems (GIS) technology in measuring reported crime levels in and around public housing developments. GIS technology was used to extract crime counts from police data bases of reported incidents for (1) public housing developments and (2) the surrounding neighborhoods. Rates of reported Part I crimes in public housing developments are compared with those in the surrounding neighborhoods and in the respective municipal jurisdictions. Odds ratios are used to compare the risk of victimization in public housing with that in the respective neighborhood and municipal catchment zones. The GIS-based analysis of reported crime in and around public housing communities reveals that risk of falling victim to aggravated assault in public housing communities is much higher than in the surrounding neighborhoods or in the parent jurisdictions as whole. Conversely, risk of property crimes such as burglary, larceny and car theft appears to be much lower. These crime patterns are discussed in the context of routine activity theory.

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