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FIGHT TO END BLIGHT: Evidence-Based Support to Minimize Urban Decay in Historic Overtown, Miami

Laurent Saint-Louis, BS; Mohammed Alawad, MD; Cari Eckman, BS; Arthur de Oliviera Correa, MSc; Sharleen Traynor , MPH; BreAnne Young, BS INTRODUCTION • One effect of environmental racism in communities of color is the increased amount of urban blight. • Based on the “Broken Window” theory urban blight can lead to increased crime and poor health. • Greening of vacant lots is a proven method of mitigating the effects of urban blight.

SITE BACKGROUND • In the 1960s, Overtown was among the largest Black settlements, thriving culturally and economically. • Turnover in the resident population, expressway construction and a failed urban renewal project fractured the community and took a toll on health, economy and security. Demographics • 62% are Black • 29% finished high school • 28% are unemployed • 51% live below Federal Poverty limit • 53.5% of men report some degree of disability due to mental health • 40.3% of men have used illegal drugs or substances • 65.9% of men have been incarcerated

Miami-Dade Open GIS Data, 2015


Government Housing

Through the greening of vacant lots this intervention aims to reduce crime and improve health outcomes in Overtown.


0.3 mi

Multi-Family, High-Density

Multi-Family, Low-Density



The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society • Entailed removing trash and debris, grading the land, planting grass and trees, and building fences. • Resulted in consistend reduction in gun violence; participants reported less stress and more exercise. The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation • The 2010 Lots of Green Program • The stabilization treatment and the community reuse treatment which resulted in the reduction of burglaries and violent crimes.


Single Family


Vacant, Government

Vacant, Private



Methods: • Randomize vacant lot selection based on the “Lots of Green” Program: 1. Stabilization Treatment: removal of debris; planting trees; lot maintenance 2. Community Reuse Treatment: creating community gardens/ athletic fields through increased community engagement 3. Control • Administer annual self-reported perceived health and safety surveys • Collect annual crime rates from Miami-Dade Police Department

Challenges in Implementation: • History of neighborhood discrimination and neglect • Institutionalized racism in Overtown and lack of political power of residents • Potential for continued gentrification of neighborhood

Expected Outcomes: • Reduced crime rates • Higher perceived safety • Higher physical activity & lower obesity rates • Improved cardiovascular and respiratory health

Challenges in Drawing Causal Inference: • Possibility of confounders that have not been controlled for • Changes in external influences may occur (ex. police presence, increased • access to healthcare) • Results may not be generalizable to other communities • Mediators may exist that have not been considered

Fight to End Blight  

Based on other similar interventions, this evidence-based proposal suggested how the greening of vacant lots led by residents of Overtown ma...

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