In Philadelphia, Building Blocks researchers found that street lighting, parks, public transportation, and cleaned-up vacant lots were associated with a lower murder risk for 13- to 20-year-olds.

In Youngstown, we found that cleaning up vacant lots or converting them into community gardens led to fewer burglaries and assaults.

And in Baltimore, less crime occurred in neighborhoods with cared-for lawns and property.

“The level of maintenance of the yard is almost like a neighborhood watch sign saying, ‘We have eyes on the street and we will say something.’”

Morgan Grove, U.S. Forest Service Researcher

Our research has also shown that vacant-lot cleaning and greening leads to significant improvements in the health and well-being of neighborhood residents.

More than two-thirds of people in Building Blocks neighborhoods reported going outside more often after improvements, and nearly half reported a reduction in depression.

Research around the country confirms it:

Signs of caring are deterrents to criminals and improve quality of life.

Building Blocks will spread those signs across the country. Cleaning up neighborhoods increases property values, improves health and well-being, and saves money on policing, emergency room visits, and incarceration.