- What is THE QUESTION that the author is trying to answer in this article?
The authors were attempting to identify whether the purchase of foreclosed houses might have caused increased neighborhood crime (Pfeiffer, Danielle and Chamberlain 34). They were also interested in the sociodemographic trends and their impact on housing purchases among investors.
- What do YOU think is the answer to this question and why?
I think that the best solution to the problem is ensuring that the investors are regulated in terms of their foreclosure interest rates and property prices. This is because their economic interests to acquire profit from foreclosed houses leads to higher cases of homeless people that resort to criminal activity for survival. Therefore, they should be subjected to strict laws that can ensure their business interests do not stand in the way of other interests such as urban planning and security.
- What factors/variables are going to be important in answering this question? Identify independent and dependent variables.
One of the key factors in this discussion is the conditions under which the foreclosure occurred. In most cases, people were unable to service their mortgages leading to their house being auctioned. Another key variable is the investor. They have a massive impact on the size of the resultant population as well as the affordability of the houses (Pfeiffer et al. 56). The last key variable is crime. It is important to examine the degree to which crime has increased in the neighborhood and its relationship with investor activity.
Dependent: Criminal behavior within the neighborhood
Independent: Investor purchase of foreclosed housing
- What data source was used (if any)?
The main data source used was call for service data on violent and property-related crime that was acquired from the local police department in Chandler. The sources came in the form of calls made from the emergency dispatch center. The data comprised violent CFS such as aggravated assault, rape, executions, theft, and fire starting, while property CFS includes break-ins, larceny, and grand theft auto (Pfeiffer et al. 123).
- What is the answer presented in the paper to the QUESTION?
The paper proposed that in order to reduces the cases of crime in the neighborhood, it was necessary to change the selling approach. Instead of selling the foreclosures to investors, the paper proposed that it was better to sell the houses to owner-occupiers. In doing so, violent crime can be lowered since owner-occupiers have a lower tendency to develop and exploit the property.
- Do you have any reason to doubt the findings (if so, explain)?
I have an issue with the paper’s proposed solution. While it is true that selling foreclosures to owner-occupiers lowers the chances of additional commercial activity and consequently, violent crime, it is not an entirely effective solution. Many other dynamics such as property price in the region as well the type of housing have an effect on the levels of crime.
- Other interesting points
One of the interesting aspects from the paper is the symbiotic relationship between crime and property value within the Chandler region. The paper revealed that investor activity was directly linked to increased criminal activity. However, the relationship is complicated further by the fact that such crime tarnishes the neighborhood’s reputation and lowers the investment levels. This blocks resources from reaching the community (Pfeiffer et al. 65). Criminal activity therefore leads to lower standards and eventually, reverse gentrification. Another interesting aspect is the strong legislation targeting owner-occupiers as opposed to investors who are the real cause of the problem. Homeowners that also occupy the same premises have very little financial impact on the foreclosure debate. Therefore, their presence does not affect the property value or the cost of the foreclosures by much. The attention is pointed at the wrong people and this serves to worsen the housing situation in Chandler.
Pfeiffer, Deirdre, Danielle Wallace, and Alyssa Chamberlain. “Is investor purchasing of foreclosures related to neighborhood crime? Evidence from a Phoenix suburb.” Housing Policy Debate 25.1 (2015): 67-90.
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