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Have you ever thought that by planting a tree, you are fighting crime? It's an idea being tested in Harris County where crime is on the rise and county officials have decided the way to fight back is through a beautification project.

Harris County Commissioners voted to approve $50 million dollars to fight crime by planting trees, building sidewalks, putting in streetlights, and cleaning up vacant lots. According to The Texan News, Harris County Judge Linda Hidalgo blamed the rising crime on the COVID-19 pandemic and gun violence.

The solution? Trees. The Texan News reported that Harris County is pushing the initiative called, "Clean Streets, Safe Neighborhoods" due to two different reports.

In support of the “Clean Streets, Safe Neighborhoods” initiative, which initially included providing air conditioning, a report provided to commissioners cited several public policy studies including one from the left-leaning Niskanen Center arguing that there is “promising evidence” for controlling crime by providing trees, green spaces, street lights, improving vacant lots, and “reducing physical disorder.”

Hidalgo also cited a 2019 report from the right-leaning Manhattan Institute for Policy Research stating that cities can curb the incidence of crime by abating blighted vacant land.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Shaw believes that if people are proud of where they live, they won't commit crimes in the area. Shaw also said, "if you want people to respect government, government has got to do things for the community when they do not expect it and this is exactly what we are doing."

The initial proposal called for giving citizens free air conditioning, but that language was taken out of the final bill.

I'm sure cities across Texas will be watching to see if things work out with the trees and crime in Harris County.

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