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Boston’s approach to “problem properties” could help improve cities across the U.S., new research finds

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For years, communities across the country have been trying to tackle “problem properties,” specific addresses that are centers of crime, drug use, violence and other public safety hazards. Despite how widespread problem properties are, there hasn’t been any evidence to prove that intervention efforts work–until now.

A recent comprehensive assessment of Boston’s Problem Properties Task Force, using almost a decade’s worth of data, is the first of its kind to show how effective these strategies can be. Boston’s approach, which focuses on collaborating with landlords to create custom solutions that avoid policing an entire community, not only reduces crime on the property but in the surrounding neighborhood as well, according to the analysis. 

“What we find in the paper is, very simply, that the interventions do lower crime and disorder at the target property and it’s sustained over many years, through the end of our analysis, which is almost a decade’s worth of data,” says Dan O’Brien, author of the paper and a professor of public policy and urban affairs and criminology and criminal justice at Northeastern University.

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