Over decades of study at The University of Texas at Austin, countless students have lived along East Riverside Drive, located southeast of campus. Rich in culture, assets, and history, this neighborhood is also home to a disproportionate amount of violent and property crime, accounting for approximately 4% of all crime in the City of Austin.
David Springer, Director of the RGK Center and a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, is leading the research team on the Riverside Togetherness Project. This three-year, $1 million grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, aims to reduce violent and property crime in hot spots, increase community safety and engagement, build trust between residents and police, and revitalize the targeted neighborhood (see map above). Riverside Togetherness is a cross-sector collaboration involving a number of key stakeholders, including the Austin Police Department, the RGK Center and LBJ School, DOJ’s Community Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) program, private businesses, local nonprofits, residents, community leaders, and volunteers. For more detail on this community-university collaboration, check out the video below.
The challenges being addressed in the two-square mile grant area range from gun violence, domestic violence, homelessness, prostitution, aggravated assault, and burglary of vehicles. These are not problems that we can simply arrest our way out of. Springer’s team is working with law enforcement, nonprofits, and community leaders to implement a number of evidence-based strategies which are smart on crime, rather than tough on crime. The research team has created a community-based asset inventory, identifying formal and informal assets that serve the neighborhood. Engaging the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to move the dial on complex social issues is central to revitalizing the Riverside area. The long-term vision is to create sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life for all residents that live and work in this vibrant neighborhood.