In the United States crack house is a term used to describe an old, often abandoned or burnt-out building often in an inner-city neighborhood where drug dealers and drug users buy, sell, produce, and use illegal drugs, including, but not limited to, crack cocaine.
In the 1980s, inner city neighborhoods were subject to a number of forces, including white flight, redlining, planned shrinkage, and withdrawal of city services such as garbage collection. Police and fire protection of the housing stock in these areas dwindled both in size and quality. In areas such as the South Bronx, Brownsville, Brooklyn and South Jamaica, Queens thousands of fires left entire blocks blighted.
City agencies picked these same neighborhoods as sites for drug rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters, and public housing, leading to a dramatic increase in the proportion of poor and needy people in areas with dwindling middle-class populations.
The strongest economy in some neighborhoods became the illegal drug trade, much to the chagrin of the few remaining community organizations. Abandoned buildings ravaged by arson or neglect formed perfect outposts for drug dealers since they were free, obscure, secluded and there would be no paper trail in the form of rent receipts. The sale of illegal drugs drew other kinds of violent crime to these neighborhoods further exacerbating the exodus of residents.
In some cases enraged citizens have burned crack houses to the ground, in hopes that by destroying the sites for drug operations they might also drive the problematic illegal industries from their neighborhoods. Many major American inner cities contain crack houses.