Vacancy Rates

The HCI Vacancy Rates indicator measures the share of vacant residential properties within a neighborhood. Physical disorder related to blight and vacant properties is associated with many negative health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease and mental illness. Vacant residential properties are linked with higher levels of crime and illegal activity such as prostitution, drug sales, and drug use by adolescents, as well as increased risk of fire injury. Vacancy rates are also associated with worse maternal and infant health outcomes. High levels of “boarded-up housing” has been found to be a predictor of gonorrhea, premature mortality, diabetes, homicide, and suicide. Vacant housing is also a predictor of high blood lead levels in children. Vacancy rates are an “inverse” measure: the higher the proportion of vacant homes in a neighborhood, the lower the community health. Posted under Housing, vacancy rates also impacts economic health, social cohesion, health systems and public safety, and neighborhood characteristics. Data on housing vacancy is available from the U.S. Census.

Neighborhoodsort descending Indicator Value Rank
Blackstone 8.8% 3
Charles 14.7% 16
College Hill 12.2% 7
Downtown 13.0% 9
Elmhurst 15.4% 21
Elmwood 14.7% 16
Federal Hill 17.8% 23
Fox Point 9.0% 4
Hartford 9.3% 5
Hope 14.9% 18
Lower South Providence 14.9% 18
Manton 1.9% 1
Mount Hope 13.0% 9
Mount Pleasant 11.3% 6
Olneyville 13.3% 11
Reservoir 14.0% 13
Silver Lake 15.8% 22
Smith Hill 18.1% 24
South Elmwood 12.9% 8
Upper South Providence 15.1% 20
Valley 19.0% 25
Wanskuck 14.0% 13
Washington Park 13.8% 12
Wayland 8.3% 2
West End 14.2% 15

Key Citations:
1. Center for Community Progress, Turning Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places. Available at:
2. Cohen, Deborah A., et al. “Neighborhood physical conditions and health” (2003). American Journal of Public Health.
3. Garvin, Eugenia, et al. "More Than Just An Eyesore: Local Insights And Solutions on Vacant Land And Urban Health" (2012). Journal of Urban Health.
4. Pettit K, Kingsley T, Coulton C, Cigna J. 2003. Neighborhoods and Health: Building Evidence for Local Policy. US Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Accessed May 23, 2013.
5. Reagan PB, Salsberry PJ. Race and ethnic differences in determinants of preterm birth in the USA: broadening the social context. Soc Sci Med. 2005 May; 60(10):2217-28. Epub 2004 Dec 7.Accessed May 23. 2013.
6. Sargent JD, Bailey A, Simon P, Blake M, Dalton MA. Census tract analysis of lead exposure in Rhode Island children. Environ Res. 1997; 74(2):159-68.
7. Wilson, James Q., and George L. Kelling. “Broken Windows” (1982). The Atlantic Online.
8. Whitaker S. 2011. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Foreclosure Related Vacancy Rates. Accessed May 23, 2013. Available at: