THE ELUSIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND CRIME: AN ASSESSMENT ACROSS DISADVANTAGED AREAS OF THE SOUTH BRONX
Several theoretical perspectives posit a negative association between the extent of a neighborhood's organizational infrastructure and crime; yet, empirical support for this proposition has been limited in that researchers generally examine only a few types of organizations or combine them into one aggregate measure. Studies with few measures may omit organizations that are effective at reducing crime, whereas those using aggregate measures obscure differences across organizations in their ability to control crime. Using data from 74 block groups in the South Bronx, NY, this research seeks to specify more clearly the relationship between organizations and crime in a disadvantaged urban environment. We examine the relationship among nine different types of organizations and violent and property crime controlling for prior crime, land use, and area sociodemographic characteristics. Consistent with theories that highlight the importance of organizations for establishing ties outside the neighborhood, we find that block groups with more organizations that bridge to the larger community experience a decrease in crime. Property crime also is reduced in block groups with more organizations that promote the well-being of families and children. We find that schools are associated with an increase in property crime, whereas the effects of other organizations are context specific and vary based on neighborhood racial composition, commercial land use, and disadvantage.