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222 The spatial relationship between violent crime, blighted housing, and emergency department utilization in Houston, TX
  1. Alaina Beauchamp
  1. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health


Background To identify the relationship between the proximity of crime and blighted housing, and the influence on emergency department (ED) utilization.

Methods/Approach Blighted housing violations and violent physical crime offenses from 2010 were used for spatial analysis of ED utilization. Blight and crime data were taken through open access Houston records, and the ED data was collected in a prior study. Clustering measures (nearest neighbor ratio), frequencies of events within location buffer zones, and spatial autocorrelation calculations were used for analysis.

Results There were 11,741 violent physical crimes, with majority of being aggravated assault (92.34%). There were 2,969 blight violations, with the largest proportion being ‘visual damage is dangerous to life’ (32.06%). The average number of emergency department visits per month was 15.71 visits per 1000 persons in population (SD=26.35). Blighted housing and violent crime both displayed clustering of the location points (NNR=0.23, NNR=0.31 respectively). As the number of ED visits per month increases, both the number of blighted properties and crimes increased at a similar rate. Sixty-five percent of all violent physical crimes in Houston occurred within 500 meters of a blighted property (N=7595). Of all the murders which occurred in Houston in 2010, 83.2% occurred within approximately five blocks of a blighted house (N=208).

Conclusions This study provides evidence of the relationship of both factors (e.g. violent crime and blighted housing) on the use of emergency department (ED) services. Future research should look to dissect the reasons for high utilization of emergency services, and the results of criminal actions within Houston.

Significance Although there are many factors that will inevitably influence crime, the blight of the housing in the community may be a large contributor in the perpetuation of violent physical crime. This research supports a link in the blighted housing of the community providing an opportunity for crime and subsequent injury.

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