A suburb of Houston, Texas decided that it would take a non-traditional approach to fighting crime by planting trees. The community of Alief decided that it would plant 1,200 new trees for multiple purposes.
Not only is the plan an effort to beautify the area, but local leaders hope that this will also cut back on crime.
This was supported by evidence published in the Journal of Public Economics that linked higher temperatures with higher crimes. Since Alief is about ten degrees warmer than the rest of Houston, local leaders believe that this could be a solution.
The area is 11% covered by trees, about one-third of that of the rest of the city. Local leader Barbara Quattro told local news that the barren look of the area without trees “encourages crime.” She added, “It encourages vandalism.”
Quattro believes that trees are “a win-win for everybody. They not only look good, but they make the place look good and people respect it more.”
In celebration of #EarthDay, Commissioner @LesleyBrionesTX and @HarrisCountyOCA announced $2 million in ARPA funding for the Alief Street Forest tree planting project. The project will allow #HarrisCounty to plant 1,200 trees along 17 miles of roads. #HCPrecinct4 pic.twitter.com/lRmw0b0xMP
— Harris County Precinct 4 (@HCPrecinct4) April 22, 2023
The trees will be planted alongside 17 miles of roads around Alief over the next two years. Harris County, home to Houston, plans to use $2 million in pandemic funding to fund the endeavor.
Despite being in otherwise-Republican Texas, the city council is dominated by Democrats. Currently, there are 11 Democrats and 5 Republicans on the city council, alongside Mayor Sylvester Turner (D).
This isn’t the first major initiative in a Texas city that contradicted the rest of the state. In 2020, the Austin City Council passed a resolution that began “WHEREAS, Black Lives Matter.”
Austin was the site of a Black Lives Matter protest in which Army Sergeant Daniel Perry shot and killed a man that Perry believed was pointing a gun at him. Perry was found guilty of murder earlier this month. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that he would work within Texas law to pardon Perry.
That same year, the Independent Dallas School District board unanimously passed a measure that said the same. The resolution stated that the district declared “unequivocally that the lives of black students and Black people in our community matters.”