The Relationship Between Urban Blight and Gun Violence

A melon colored building sits strategically on the corner of East 55th and Standard Avenue, one traffic light away from St. Clair Avenue.  The modern structure, and judicious use of glass that enhances the building style, creates a standout piece of architecture in this historic St. Clair neighborhood.

One tenth of a mile away the faded grandeur of another proud building stands in its former elegance.

At the intersection of E 55th and St. Clair is the former Carnegie Library Building.  The red bricks are crumbling, boards have been secured over windows that used to allow sunlight to trickle in on readers engrossed in mystery novels.  The St. Clair Branch of the library closed in 1946. ( This building used for some time by the Goodrich Settlement is clearly abandoned and has transitioned to an architectural eyesore.

Northern Ohio Recovery Association (NORA) owns the brand-new building with the sunshine colors one block south, a beacon of modernization in this historic neighborhood.

Renewals, renovations, updates and occupancy are all components of a revitalized neighborhood. Surprisingly these are all also descriptions of actions that reduce gun violence in urban populations.

Attaching this neighborhood to a larger trend, researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture, published an article in the Spring of 2018, “A Place Based Approach to Urban Gun Violence.”  In analyzing the data, scientists discovered that there was a direct relationship between renovating abandoned buildings and a reduction in the number of fire-arm related events. Furthermore, the researchers urged cities to take a look at this strategy because it is more cost effective than hiring additional police officers.

Cleveland has had a 55% rise in homicides compared to last year according to a Cleveland-19 news report released on June 11th of this year. At least 16 homicides have been reported in Cleveland the last 17 days, pushing the total number of homicides in 2020 to 62, according to records from the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2019, there were 40 homicides recorded between January 1 and June 8, according to police records.

In September, NORA will host a Zoom discussion on this pressing issue. We are asking residents, stakeholders and anti-violence activists to join this conversation called Common Ground, created by the Cleveland Foundation.

To participate send an email to:

Your voice heard, can be a voice that changes.

Lisa Rose-Rodriguez, MPH


Northern Ohio Recovery Association