Washington DC is a city of contradictions, with affluent neighborhoods existing alongside much poorer areas that surround the city. This has resulted in a difficult choice for many DC residents: pay an exorbitant amount to live in a central and secure part of the city, or deal with longer commutes and the high crime rates that come with living in less desirable neighborhoods. In this report, we will take a closer look at the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington DC.
Is Washington DC Safe?
Despite the recent increase in violent crime rates between 2020 and 2022, Washington DC is actually a relatively safe city, particularly in the tourist areas and downtown core. While there are some dangerous neighborhoods in the city, the overall violent crime rate is comparable to that of other major metropolitan areas. That being said, it’s worth noting that Washington DC may not be as safe as some other cities, such as New York City.
If you plan on visiting or relocating to DC, it is important to take note of the areas to steer clear of.
9 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Washington DC
- U Street Corridor
- Columbia Heights
- Ledroit Park
With its high violent crime rates, Brentwood is considered the most dangerous neighborhood in Washington DC. The area is home to around 28,660 residents, and in 2022 alone, there were 1,715 reported cases of violent crime, along with 7,556 incidents of burglaries, theft, and car theft. To avoid falling victim to petty theft, it’s recommended that you keep personal items such as bikes or valuables out of sight. Additionally, if you plan on using public transportation, it’s best to keep your wallet, cash, and other valuable items hidden from plain view.
Anacostia, a historic neighborhood in southeastern DC with a population of 117,488, is known for its high violent and property crime rates, making it one of the worst neighborhoods in DC. Crime in this area has been sporadic and has fluctuated since the early 2000s. Drug and gang activity is common, particularly in the Ward 8 section and the River’s East Bank area. In a study conducted in 2015, it was found that only 44 percent of inhabitants felt safe walking on the street during daytime hours. Residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with the police, claiming that they don’t feel adequately protected or that the area is patrolled enough. To stay safe, it is recommended to exercise caution on public transit and protect valuable items.
Deanwood, located in Northeast DC, is one of the worst places to reside in Washington DC, primarily due to its alarmingly high crime rate. The population of Deanwood is 29,798, and the violent crime rate is 600% higher than the national average. Gang activity is the major contributor to crime in this neighborhood, with gun violence and drug trade-related issues being commonplace. Despite a moderate police presence, crime has been steadily increasing by 2% every year since 2018. Shockingly, in the first half of 2021, DC police recorded 30 robberies, 34 assaults, 27 burglaries, and three murders in the area. As a result, the overall chance of falling victim to any type of crime in Deanwood is high, with the odds being 1 in 12.
4. U Street Corridor
The U Street Corridor, situated in Northwestern DC, has been notorious for being one of the most undesirable places to reside in Washington DC. With a population of 10,104, this neighborhood has been plagued with a high rate of crime, particularly related to drugs and prostitution, since the 1968 riots. However, due to police interventions, the crime rate has significantly reduced by the early 2000s, and the area is no longer considered the most perilous part of town. Nevertheless, gang-related activities, such as drive-by shootings, remain relatively common in this neighborhood. It is recommended to exercise caution, especially during the nighttime and if you are a female, when visiting this area. The likelihood of becoming a victim of crime in the U Street Corridor neighborhood is currently estimated at around 1 in 10.
5. Columbia Heights
Columbia Heights is recognized as one of the most perilous neighborhoods in Washington DC with a population of 34,875. The neighborhood is infamous for its substantial gang activities. The crime rate recorded in this area in 2020 was 5,825 per 100,000 people. While most of the violence is gang-related, the local population is usually not affected by violent crimes such as shootings. It is generally safe to walk or bike during the daytime as long as one uses common sense.
Petworth, a neighborhood located in the Northwest in Ward 4, is home to a population of 11,886 people. While it may not be considered as dangerous as some other neighborhoods in Washington DC, there are some areas that residents should be wary of. During the day, panhandling and vagrancy can make walking in the area unpleasant. Overall, Petworth’s crime rates are 14% lower than the Washington DC average, but violent crimes are 143% higher than the national average. It is not recommended to walk alone at night, as petty theft, pickpocketing, and muggings are constant problems. To avoid any mishaps, it is advised to keep your cash and personal belongings secure.
Located in Northwest DC, Shaw is home to 13,782 individuals. The neighborhood has a total crime rate of 6,696 per 100,000 people, with property crime being seven times more prevalent than violent crime. Frequent reports of gunshots, especially around Sixth Street, are a concern for residents. Pickpocketing and muggings are also common, so it is important to always keep personal belongings secured. Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of a crime are high, with residents facing a 1 in 12 risk.
8. Ledroit Park
In the early 1990s, this area gained notoriety as an open-air drug market. From the mid-2010s, there were fluctuations in the number of robberies and murders, with a significant increase and decrease at times. As of 2022, the violent crime rates were 184% higher than the national average, and the total crime rates were 161% higher. Property crimes are prevalent throughout the day and night, and it is advisable to take taxis instead of public transportation. It is also essential to keep cash and valuables close to the body. However, the frequent presence of police officers enhances security measures in the area.
Stadium is home to a population of 21,142 people with crime rates that exceed the city average by 24%. The area is notorious for violent crime, especially gun violence. However, the presence of law enforcement officials, including police officers stationed around the metro station, provides some assurance of safety. It is recommended to keep a watchful eye on your belongings and refrain from leaving valuables in parked cars due to the high incidence of property crime. Despite these safety concerns, Stadium has several well-regarded hotels in the vicinity.