There are many reasons why this is happening, but it’s not statistical trickery. It’s true that fewer people are dying of gunshot wounds (last year 28% of gun victims died in the hospital, and this year 20% did) but still the shootings are down 15%. We really are seeing fewer violent crimes.
I’ll include my usual reminder that gun violence has been Philadelphia’s most successful affordable housing program. People generally try to live in areas where people don’t get shot all the time if they can afford to, and as you’ll see on the map at the link, land values in the more dangerous areas are lower. In the areas where violence starts to decline, land values go up.
There is a shortage of multi-family housing in safe walkable neighborhoods in cities nationwide, and when new Philadelphia neighborhoods become safe, they see not just local but East Coast demand, national demand, international demand.
Less national and international demand for Philly housing than for other big East Coast cities, but for the growing number of home buyers and renters choosing between NYC and Washington, DC and Philadelphia, this matters. If a violent Philly neighborhood on the outskirts of a neighborhood with better amenities becomes a safe place to live, you’re going to see land prices jump.
People are used to dealing with the problems of decline, but need to start thinking about how to keep housing affordable in a growing city with rising land values. As we fix our crime and schools problems, we’re going to see greater demand for land and housing. This is a great problem to have, but it is a problem, and it’s going to require a paradigm shift in policymakers’ thinking on land use and affordability.