Applying the Broken Windows Theory to Code Enforcement in Urban Communities

The 2008 to 2012 global recession resulted in a landscape of abandoned homes in many neighborhoods across the United States due to the crisis that severely impacted the real estate and financial markets. Although very few communities were spared the negative effect of scattered vacant and unmaintained homes, this large spread dilemma impacted many urban areas more significantly as residential property values and socio-economic conditions were already compressed by limited personal household and public resources. But this rise in properties that once were homes to families known and seen to neighbors that now had become edifices of visual neglect, unsafe locations, and prime targets for eventual squatting, created an environment for widespread concern and reaction from all levels of government. At the local government level, one by one, each jurisdiction began adopting new policies and implementing programs in an effort to curtail the problems associated with extended periods of property maintenance neglect caused by the abandonment by owners, and seemingly lackadaisical response by the financial institutions that became responsible for those assets.

Control in a Changing Neighborhood Environment

Code Enforcement agencies immediately responded to the distress calls and complaints from neighbors and community leaders that had become desperate to try to eradicate the problems associated with the conditions of these abandoned homes, but quickly became overwhelmed both by demand for services and funding necessary to provide adequate property maintenance and nuisance abatement. Vacant property registration programs quickly found their way into local legislation that shared common requirements for mortgagees or ‘banks’ to step in after a property was abandoned by their owners and take responsibilities to provide proper responsible party information, local property management, routine maintenance and security. These registration programs, due to the requirements imposed on the banks, actually provided a sense of structure and control that was needed in order for the banks to properly respond and for communities to feel a sense of control. While these programs were highly effective, the slow turnover rate of these properties to new owners, still left neighborhoods with homes that are visibly unoccupied, not well-maintained, and subject to continuous vandalism and trespass.

The economic decline also hit property owners of homes and rentals who walked away from properties where there were no mortgages leaving no interested parties to immediately step in and take responsibility for maintenance adding another level of concern for areas that were already economically depressed and dealing with higher incidents of criminal activity. In a response to citizens to create safer communities and increase livability, one of the theoretical tools used in the practice of law enforcement, the broken windows theory, is making its way into the thinking of how to attain environments free from visual signs of neglect and public nuisances through its application to code enforcement efforts.

The Broken Windows Theory

The broken windows theory is based on the premise that unimpeded disorder in urban communities leads to additional crime and anti-social behavior. This criminological theory was introduced in 1982 by two social scientists, James Q. …

How Washington DC was Chosen as Capital of the United States

The War of Independence had left the fledgling America free, but in turmoil. There was as yet no President and the country was a loose conglomeration of more or less independent states. Many soldiers who had fought in the war had yet to be paid for it and there was no official center of government to pay them. Philadelphia’s Old City Hall was the only place the where the leaders of the revolution routinely met and in 1783 they decided it was time to designate a new national capital.

While most people agreed on the need for a national capital nobody could agree on just where it should be. People who lived in the northern states favored either New York City, Philadelphia or Germantown which is now part of Philadelphia. People who lived in the southern states were unsure about a central government, especially one with a capital city located in the north. For a time Germantown was actually designated as the new national capital but when no action was taken the debate lingered on for years. When George Washington was elected President of the United States in 1789 he was president of a country that had yet to agree on the location of its capitol city

The entire issue was further complicated when Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed that all the state debts incurred while fighting the War for Independence should be assumed by the federal government. To the people of the northern states this sounded like a great idea since their sates owed quite a bit more than the southern states. But the people of the southern states felt this might give the federal government too much power and there was even talk among some southern states about secession from the union. A vote was taken in the Continental Congress and the proposal lost by a margin of just two votes and it was a bitter defeat that left everybody unsatisfied and searching for answers.

Determined to see things through Hamilton sought out James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and asked to talk to them about the problems their country was facing. Jefferson graciously invited Hamilton and Madison to dinner at his home and the men sat down to see if they could solve their differences on the issues of their day. At this meeting Hamilton suggested that the nations capital stay in Philadelphia for the next ten years and then be moved to a site on the Potomac River near Georgetown as this would be more acceptable to the southern states. In exchange for this he asked Jefferson and Madison to convince two friends to reverse their votes on his proposal. Jefferson and Madison agreed to this and even President Washington was pleased with the plan to place the nations capital on the Potomac River.

And so it was that on July 16, 1790 an act of Congress was passed that established the location of Americas capital city at a place first known to the Native …

How Loyalty Affects You Personally and Professionally

How often is your loyalty questioned? Loyalty is something of value. Loyalty is a jewel that is hard to find in today’s society. Think of your loyalty to an organization. People do not spend the same amount of years working for the same company, as their parents and grandparents did. Think of the marriages that end in divorce. People are quicker to terminate marriages for the smallest of issues, such as “irreconcilable differences.” Loyalty is a strong force that will keep you in any relationship, whether business or personal.

Your loyalty to someone or even an organization will always have a high appraisal value. When your mate for example senses a hint of disloyalty in you, the level of trust goes down. When trust diminishes, the relationship deteriorates. The same is true for the organization you work for. When disloyalty is evident in you, your opportunities for growth in that organization are lost. Trust and loyalty go hand in hand.

The opposite obviously is disloyalty. So how is disloyalty shown? Simply in what you say and sometimes what you do. Do you gather at the water fountain with other employees to bad-mouth what management is doing? Do you tell your mate’s secrets to your friends, knowing that if your mate found out, he or she will be highly embarrassed or upset? In terms of what you do, how likely are you to allow someone to speak evil of a friend or relative of yours without you speaking up for them? What if your coworkers say negative things about your CEO? Is he or she worthy of your defense?

Loyalty is rooted in the heart. It is not superficial by any means. It is a code by which one lives. It is a standard that will gain you allies for life. It is true that one can be loyal to people or organizations that are negative, such as gangs or terror groups. So loyalty in itself is not a sign of a good trait. What is important is who or what you are loyal to.

Now, loyalty is not just a matter of you showing it for the sake of being loyal. The reason you are loyal is because the other party has your interest at heart. Loyalty is required on the parts of both parties. If your company for example is not showing you signs of job security or passes you up for promotion when you are the most qualified, then the company is not being loyal to you. Going back to Trust, it is diminished in your eyes. Likewise with your personal relationships. All parties involved must show loyalty. If you are not benefiting from the relationship, then the loyalty level is dropping.

So be a person who is known for being loyal. However be a smart loyal person. If you are given reasons to distrust the other party, your loyalty level will naturally drop and you must demand that corrections are made. If corrections are not made, then …