Evidence of Success

In numerous thorough studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals, researchers have found that PHS Philadelphia LandCare’s benefits are quantifiable, measureable and replicable.

Numerous independent studies have found the following:

  • In 2012, one study found that the $15.3 million spent by the City on the program yielded a total housing gain of $3.5 billion. This means that for every dollar spent to clean and green vacant land, housing wealth increased by a whopping $224.
  • Transformed “Clean and Green” lots are associated with a marked reduction in gun violence.
  • LandCare parcels are associated with improved health outcomes for neighborhood residents, including increased exercise and decreased stress levels.
  • After a vacant lot is “Cleaned and Greened,” the values of nearby homes increase by nearly 20 percent. Whereas before the treatment these same homes were worth 16 percent less than comparable homes, the homes near treated vacant lots now command a premium of 2-5 percent.
  • The benefits increase over time. While the initial jump is immediate, when those cleaned and greened lots are maintained, nearby homes continue to appreciate at an additional 0.5 percent every year.
  • The benefits increase with more greened lots. After the initial benefits of a stabilized lot, each additional “Cleaned and Greened” lot adds another 1 percent of value to homes within a quarter mile.

A National Model

As a result of this comprehensive approach to managing abandoned land, Philadelphia now has an innovative model that is applicable to other cities. LandCare’s targeted intervention not only improves the appearance and livability of communities, but it also contributes to public health and safety, raises property values, and stimulates new investment.

Recognizing the program's effectiveness, the City of Philadelphia added $550,000 to the LandCare contract in 2016. This funding was used for a Re-entry Initiative pilot program that will incentivize private landscape contractors and Community LandCare organizations to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. This effort will enhance the connection the LandCare program has with Roots to Re-Entry, by providing more job opportunities for R2R graduates. Much of the rest of the funding, which includes a PHS management fee, will support the expansion of Philadelphia LandCare.

Interested in learning more?  Published studies are listed below

Citywide cluster randomized trial to restore blighted vacant land and its effects on violence, crime, and fear

- Charles C. Branas, Eugenia South, Michelle C. Kondo, Bernadette C. Hohl, Philippe Bourgois, Douglas J. Wiebe and John M. MacDonald

Urban Blight Remediation as a Cost-Beneficial Solution to Firearm Violence

- Charles C. Branas, PhD, Michelle C. Kondo, PhD, Sean M. Murphy, PhD, Eugenia C. South, MD, Daniel Polsky, PhD, and John M. MacDonald, PhD. Research and Practice, October 2016

Vacant Properties and Violence in Neighborhoods

- Charles C. Branas, David Rubin, and Wensheng Guo. International Scholarly Research Network, September 2012

A Simple Strategy to Transform Health, All Over the Place

- Charles C. Branas, PhD and John M. MacDonald, PhD. NIH Public Access April 2014

Greening vacant lots to reduce violent crime: a randomised controlled trial

- Eugenia C Garvin, Carolyn C Cannuscio, Charles C Branas. IP Online First, August 2012

The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformation in Philadelphia, Identification and Analysis:  The New Kensington Pilot Study

- Susan Wachter. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2005

Public Investment Strategies: How They Matter for Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

- Susan M. Wachter, Kevin C. Gillen. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, October 2006

Vacant Property Reclamation through Strategic Investment in Eastern North Philadelphia, 1998-2010

- John Kromer, Christopher Kingsley. Fels Institute of Government, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylavania, 2010.   The study tracks the investment of managed vacant land and new housing in a twelve year period in the APM target area.

Commercial Corridors: Strategic Investment Framework for Philadelphia

- Econsult Corporation. March 2009

A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of Health, Safety, and Greening Vacant Urban Space

- Charles C. Branas, Rose A. Cheney, John M. MacDonald, Vicky W. Tam, Tara D. Jackson, and Thomas R. Ten Havey. American Journal of Epidemiology (2011).

More Than Just An Eyesore: Local Insights And Solutions on Vacant Land And Urban Health

- Eugenia Garvin, Charles Branas, Shimrit Keddem, Jeffrey Sellman, and Carolyn Cannuscio. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine (2012).

The Economic Impact of Greening Urban Vacant Land: A Spatial Difference-in-Differences Analysis

- Megan Heckert, Jeremy Mennis. Environment and Planning (2012).

Access and Equity in Greenspace Provision: A Comparison of Methods to Assess the Impacts of Greening Vacant land

- Megan Heckert. Transactions in GIS, 2012.

Valuing the Conversion of Urban Greenspace

- Susan M. Wachter, Kevin C.Gillen. University of Pennsylvania, 2012.

Being near greened vacant lots lowers heart rates

- Eugenia South. Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, March 2015.