I’ve been curious about how crime and home ownership relate for a while now but haven’t had a chance to look into it. However, I think I’ve now figured out some ways to crunch some local data, so may be working through some posts on subjects in this realm in the future.
Here’s one example of what I have in mind. The Hennepin County Property Information Search site provides information on who owns each property in the county. This includes the address of the taxpayer and whether the property is a homestead (owner-occupied primary residence) or non-homestead property.
As an experiment, I decided to check out where the taxpayer of each property on Lyndale Avenue North actually resides. Obviously, quite a few live in the homes they own on Lyndale, but what about the rest? I checked every address starting from 2102 Lyndale Ave N heading North to the Northern border of the city. Each marker on the map below plots the address of a Lyndale Ave N property owner. This shows that a significant portion of the properties on that street belong to taxpayers who also live on that street.
However, if I zoom out on the map to a display greater Twin Cities Metro view, you can see that a significant portion of the homes on Lyndale Ave N are owned by people who live a significant distance from their properties:
This is where rentals come into play. How close of an eye does a landlord keep on a property that’s 30 minutes away?
Pulling back on the map one more time, the markers below show that properties on Lyndale Ave N are actually owned by people and companies all over the United States.
At the national level, it looks like a common theme is bank ownership. Foreclosures on Lyndale Ave N are now owned by banks in New York City, Houston, and Rancho Cucamonga.
Why does this matter? It turns out that home ownership rates have a significant correlation with neighborhood challenges, such as crime rates.
For three types of incidents (disturbances, assaults, and drugs), landlord remoteness from properties is positively associated with reported criminal activity. This association may be caused by management quality deterioration due to the increased costs of conducting business from a distance or a remote landlord’s ability to ignore some of the external costs imposed by tenant misbehavior on neighbors. Non-resident landlords may be less selective in choice of tenants, more accommodating of behavior and lifestyles that they would not accept if located ‘next door’ to their own residence, and less likely to employ effective surveillance and security measures.
This isn’t suggesting that all landlords living outside of North Minneapolis are automatically slumlords, or that those who live there are not. What I’m interested in is figuring out which landlords are failing to run their businesses in a community-friendly manner.
In future posts, I’ll attempt to lay out some of the challenges community activists face in their attempts to turn around problem areas of neighborhoods.
I’ll give some examples of how we can better use technology to arm community activists with the data they need to uncover slumlord enterprises.
And, I may ask you for some time and money to help gather and aggregate public data into more usable formats so we can help the helpers make positive changes faster.
In return, you’ll gain access to some insight into the economics of slumlording and contribute in a small but significant way to making Minneapolis an even better city. If that interests you, leave a comment of send and email. If you’d like to get involved while remaining anonymous, that’s fine with me. My contact information can be found on my About page, or click here to send me an anonymous message.
This will likely be broken up with pictures of TP and rants about yellow pages, of course. Good times ahead.