Theses Master's

Are Public Housing Projects More Dangerous Than Their Neighborhood? A study on public housing crime and causative factors with New York as study area

Zhou, Shaochun

As the earliest form of affordable housing, public housing plays a special historical role in the United States, dating back to the 1930s. However, the 1970s brought a rapid nationwide decline in public housing, accompanied by frequent facility breakdown and crime prevalence. The significance of physical design in causing such decline, as well as other economic and demographic causes, has attracted substantive reports and analyses, but interpretations remain widely divided. This paper examines the safety of New York public housing with crime rates as indicators and uses multiple statistical methods to the test arguments of existing research and to identify statistically significant explanatory factors. The results of this study suggest that New York City's public housing en bloc has a higher crime rate than the city average even while public housing remains a safety harbor in some of the worst neighborhoods. Correlation and linear regression analyses suggest two factors: population density and building coverage ratio with less than weak effects on raising public housing crime rates. Ordered logistic regression analyses return four causative factors: population density, average annual household income per person, percentage of female-headed households with children, and percentage of households without child. Of these factors, tenant income and demographic features have greater impact than physical design factors on the security performance of public housing. The author expects the conclusions will clarify some misunderstandings about public housing and offers select administrative advice to local housing authorities.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Freeman, Lance M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2018