November 6, 2003
Eric Solomon: (202) 994-3087; email@example.com
COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT REDUCES NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME,
ACCORDING TO NEW GW STUDY
GW Sociology Professors to Present Research at American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting
WASHINGTON Access to mortgage lending leads to reductions in crime rates according to research to be presented at the 62nd annual meeting of the American Society of Criminiology by George Washington University sociologists Charis E. Kubrin and Gregory D. Squires.
Over the past decade mortgage lending has increased and crime rates are down in central cities across the U.S. Kubrin and Squires research indicates that this relationship is not just a coincidence. Investment matters and policy counts. Fair lending rules designed primarily to increase home ownership are also making neighborhoods safer places to live, work and play, Squires said.
In their paper The Impact of Capital on Crime: Does Access to Home Mortgage Money Reduce Crime Rates? Kubrin and Squires examined mortgage lending activity and neighborhood crime rates in Seattle, Wash., and found:
Where mortgage capital is more readily available, crime rates are lower. This relationship holds even after taking into account those factors that have long been understood to influence crime (e.g. poverty, home ownership, residential instability, divorce, etc.). The impact is greater for those loans most influenced by public policy requiring lenders to be responsive to traditionally underserved markets. Mortgage loans made by lenders under the jurisdiction of the Community Reinvestment Act are more strongly associated with declining crime rates than are mortgage loans generally.
The study found that a $10,000 increase in the average mortgage loan amount led to a reduction of seven violent and three property crimes per 1,000 Seattle residents. For a typical Seattle community this translates into a reduction of 34 violent and 16 property crimes each year.
At a time when states are facing massive budget deficits, many are exploring alternatives to costly prison construction and the expenditure of more than $30,000 per year per inmate, many of whom are incarcerated for technical violations and pose no threat to their community. Training programs, drug rehabilitation, job hunting assistance and other efforts to help ex-offenders as they re-enter society are proving successful. Community reinvestment, in the way of increased access to mortgage loans, can reinforce such human capital investment, and make our cities safer for everyone, Kubrin said.
A copy of the paper is available by request by calling Eric Solomon at
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