A recent University of Kansas study found a program demolishing more than 500 abandoned residential properties in Kansas City, Missouri, did not significantly reduce nearby violent or property crime.

Hye-Sung Han, assistant professor of public affairs & administration at KU, conducted a study in which she examined 559 abandoned properties in Kansas City, Missouri, and nearby crime rates in the surrounding area. She found the demolition did not lead to a reduction in nearby crime and that localized socioeconomic and housing characteristics were much stronger predictors of any change in crime rates.

Please see below for the Study Abstract.

Please click here for the study.
Please click here for the KU News Release.
Please click here for a news report from Fox4KC.

***Please note the contrast with the previously reported study from Journal of Behavioral Medicine


Scholars argue that housing abandonment increases area criminal activity. The link between abandoned properties and crime has led to the assumption that demolition of abandoned properties will stymie critical activity and thus improve neighborhood safety. Although cities spend millions of federal and local funds on demolitions every year, very little research has explored the empirical effects of demolitions on crime. Does demolition lead to a reduction in nearby crime? This study answers this question by quantifying the relationship between abandoned building demolition programs and nearby crime using a difference-in-difference approach on 559 abandoned buildings demolished in Kansas City, Missouri, between 2012 and 2016. This study finds that demolition of abandoned properties does not have any significant impact on nearby violent and property crime. This analysis shows that a change in nearby crime is attributable to differences in nearby socioeconomic and housing characteristics, rather than to the demolition of abandoned properties.