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We know that abandoned lots dampen a neighborhood’s economic attractiveness, scaring away prospective tenants and investors. But what about their impact on our health? Is that affected as well?
It might be. Research finds that poorly-kept areas can raise our stress levels and lead to other adverse effects, offering further reasons to invest in inner-city turnarounds. “There is increasing evidence to show that our environments do affect our health,” says Gina South, a physician in the school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Urban planners really need to consider that as we intervene in places. Cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia all have high rates of vacant land and that really impacts the health of people living in those neighborhoods.”
South led a recent study looking at two run-down parts of Philadelphia. One group of lots received a “greening treatment” from the Philadelphia Horticulture Society, which includes clearing away trash, planting grass and trees, and putting up a wooden rail fence. The other, control, group was left as it is. […]