© CityLab

The findings in study are consistent with a wide range of previous research on crime and place. It turns out that low-income housing developments that are “hot spots” for crime tend to share certain characteristics. Some are large-scale, structural factors, like concentrated disadvantage and residential instability in the properties’ surrounding neighborhoods. But others are smaller-scale—and more easily fixable—matters of place, like a lack of basic security and design features.

The study looked at the presence of practical (if depressingly carceral-seeming) features like secured entrances, strongly enforced visitor policies, bars or lattices on the windows, surveillance cameras, and routine patrols. The safer developments were equipped with more of them; the more dangerous ones had fewer.