Empty buildings 'a threat to mental health'

Empty buildings 'a threat to mental health'

Vacant land poses a threat to community, physical and mental health, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Published online in the Journal of Urban Health, the research - featuring analysis of 50 in-depth interviews - reveals that residents have concerns about the negative effect empty properties can have on community wellbeing.

Vacant land can overshadow the positive impact of their neighbourhood, participants claimed, with illegal usage of such land for purposes like prostitution, drug sales and fly-tipping generating a lack of trust and a sense of helplessness.

Previous research has indicated that increased rates of violence are often seen in communities that lack collaboration and respect for one another.

Eugenia C Garvin, MD, a resident in the university's Department of Emergency Medicine, said residents involved in the study clearly feel vacant land undermines health in their neighbourhoods.

"As local communities work to recover from the recent housing crisis ... the perspectives of residents reinforce the idea that both the economy and health suffer when neighbourhoods decline," she added.

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