Beyond just civic pride, clean streets have a major impact on the overall well being of a neighborhood and its residents. Research indicates that signs of neighborhood disorder can negatively impact civic trust. For example, people who report high levels of litter in their community also tend to have lower levels of community pride (-10%) and lower levels of trust in local government (-10%). On the other hand, well-maintained neighborhoods and public spaces have the potential to boost trust, promote feelings of safety, and encourage community stewardship (source).
Just like urban design, cleaning streets and public space maintenance can be a creative and engaging process. Many nonprofits are stepping up to become stewards of our public spaces. The Clean Streets LA Challenge awards Neighborhood Councils, nonprofits, and other community groups in LA are taking action to address street cleanliness in their neighborhoods and implement exceptional community improvement projects.
Beyond LA, in San Francisco, the nonprofit Urban Alchemy provides litter reduction services in the Tenderloin and adjacent neighborhoods of San Francisco to ensure safe, clean, and accessible sidewalks and right-of-ways, while also providing employment opportunities for unsheltered populations.