A sample of 306 residents of New Jersey stratified by type of neighborhood was gathered in order to measure the association of residents’ ratings of neighborhood quality with neighborhood attributes and residents’ characteristics. Poor neighborhood quality was strongly associated with crime/vandalism and physical decay, as well as with mistrust of authority, negative emotions, pessimism, and a lack of sense of mastery of the environment.
The policy implications of these findings are important. First, improving schools, controlling locally unwanted land uses, and improving other neighborhood conditions will help improve neighborhood quality only if crime and blight are controlled. Second, many residents of poor and fair quality neighborhoods mistrust authority, including the local officials and potential investors who will spearhead neighborhood redevelopment. This destructive form of mistrust must be addressed.