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Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Washington DC

most dangerous neighborhoods in washington dc

Washington, D.C., is the capital city of the United States, known for its political significance and historical landmarks. The city is divided into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. Each has its own unique neighborhoods with different characteristics. 

Some of the most popular neighborhoods in DC include Georgetown, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill. These areas are known for their historic architecture, trendy restaurants, and bustling nightlife. 

But how about the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington DC?

Yes, there are also many neighborhoods in DC that have a reputation for being dangerous. These are often characterized by high crime rates, poverty, and a lack of economic opportunities. While the city has made strides in recent years to improve safety and reduce crime, these neighborhoods continue to be a concern for residents and visitors alike.

So, let’s take a look at the most dangerous Washington, D.C. neighborhoods to be aware of, as well as a few tips for staying safe, should you be passing through any of them. 

The 3 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Washington DC


Anacostia is a neighborhood located in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. It is known for having one of the highest crime rates in the city. The area is characterized by poverty, unemployment, and a severe lack of economic opportunities for those suffering there. Many residents of Anacostia struggle to make ends meet, which can lead to increased crime.

The worst part?

One of the main issues facing Anacostia is gang violence. The neighborhood has several active gangs that are known to engage in violent behavior. This includes drug trafficking, robbery, and assault. Residents are often afraid to leave their homes after dark, and you are advised to be highly cautious when exploring the area.


Any good news?

Despite its reputation for being dangerous, Anacostia has a rich cultural history. The neighborhood is home to several historic landmarks, including the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and the Anacostia Museum. 

However, if you are interested in learning more about the neighborhood’s history and culture, you should consider visiting these sites during the day and with a group.

Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights is a neighborhood located in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. It is also known for having a high crime rate. Particularly when it comes to property crimes like theft and burglary. And unfortunately, Columbia Heights is also known for gang activity, drug trafficking, and violence.

One of the primary issues Columbia Heights faces is the lack of affordable housing. Many residents of the neighborhood struggle to get by, and the high cost of living can lead to desperation and, therefore, criminal activity. Additionally, the neighborhood has a large immigrant population, which can make it difficult for some residents to find work and get ahead.

Always good to offer a positive, though…

Despite its problems, Columbia Heights has a vibrant cultural scene. The neighborhood is home to several trendy restaurants and bars, as well as the historic Tivoli Theatre. But if you are interested in exploring the area, you should stick to well-lit, busy streets. Also, be cautious when walking alone at night, or avoid doing so altogether, if possible.


Deanwood is in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. It has an equally high crime rate, particularly when it comes to violent crime. The area is also, again, plagued by poverty, unemployment, and a lack of economic support for so many.


Are you noticing the common denominator here?

In Deanwood’s case, the lack of community resources is the real issue. The neighborhood has few grocery stores, restaurants, or other businesses. Which can make it difficult for residents to access basic necessities. Additionally, the area has a large number of vacant buildings, which can attract further criminal activity.

Still, Deanwood has a strong sense of community. The neighborhood is home to several community organizations and churches that work to support residents and improve the area. 

But if you’re passing through this area, you will need to be very cautious and aware of your surroundings.

Other Dangerous Neighborhoods in DC

In addition to Anacostia, Columbia Heights, and Deanwood, there are several other neighborhoods in DC to avoid if safety is a concern for you.

These include:

Congress Heights 

Located in the southeast quadrant of the city, Congress Heights has a relatively high crime rate. The neighborhood is also home to several public housing developments, which can be said to be a contributor to crime and violence.

Congress Heights


In the northeast quadrant of the city is Brentwood, with its high crime rate and a large number of vacant buildings. The area has also experienced a lot of gang-related violence in recent years.


Located in the northeast quadrant of the city, Trinidad is known for having a large number of drug-related incidents. The neighborhood has also experienced instances of gang-related violence. And it is considered a high-risk area by law enforcement.


To the northwest quadrant of the city is Shaw, with its equally high crime rate, particularly property crimes like theft and burglary. The neighborhood has also experienced instances of gang-related violence and drug trafficking.


Located in the northwest quadrant of the city, Petworth has a very high violent crime rate. The area is, once again, mostly characterized by poverty and a lack of opportunities.


Benning Heights and Mayfair

Back in the northeast quadrant of the city, Benning Heights and Mayfiar are both known for having a high crime rate, particularly when it comes to violent crime. The same problems of poverty and a lack of community resources to deal with this exist here.

Important Things to Note When Traveling to DC

Unsafe Areas

It’s important to note that while these neighborhoods have a reputation for being dangerous, not all parts of these areas are unsafe. However, like any other place, you should always be careful and aware of your surroundings when you visit, just in case. 


Additionally, it’s important to be respectful of the residents who live in these neighborhoods. Avoiding stereotyping or making assumptions about the people who live there is crucial to promoting positive and inclusive interactions. 

Moreover, avoid any behavior that could be seen as disrespectful or threatening, such as loitering or taking photos without permission.

Personal Safety

You should always take basic safety measures like staying in well-lit areas and not carrying a lot of cash or valuables when you’re on your own. Keeping an eye out for anything or anyone that seems odd and removing yourself quickly is your greatest defense

Personal Safety


Finally, it’s crucial to acknowledge the systemic issues that contribute to the challenges faced by these neighborhoods. Poverty, hunger, and a lack of economic upliftment initiatives are issues faced daily by so many. Plus, a long history of neglect and discrimination. 

Understanding these factors can help you better appreciate the resilience and strength of the communities that live there. You may even want to support any efforts to promote positive change and greater equity.

More on that later…

Washington, D.C. FAQs 

Are there any community organizations working to improve these neighborhoods?

Yes, there are. These organizations focus on issues like affordable housing, job training, and youth programs. By volunteering or donating to these organizations, you can help make a difference in the lives of the people who have to live in these neighborhoods.

What steps can residents take to stay safe in these neighborhoods?

Residents of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. should avoid walking alone at night and always be aware of their surroundings. Moreover, though, to report suspicious activity to the authorities. It’s also important for residents to support community organizations that are working to improve the area.

Are there any plans to improve safety in these neighborhoods?

Yes, these efforts include increasing police presence, improving community resources, and investing in job training and affordable housing. However, these efforts take time and resources. And there is still work to be done to make these neighborhoods safer for residents and visitors alike.

Is gentrification helping or hurting these neighborhoods?

The impact of gentrification on neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. is a subject of debate. While some argue that gentrification brings new investment and resources to these neighborhoods, others argue that it displaces long-time residents. Plus that it exacerbates existing inequalities.

So, like many social and political issues, the effects of gentrification on these neighborhoods are complex and nuanced. Opinions on the issue vary widely. So, it’s best to try to respect all opinions on such a heated issue, even if you disagree personally.

Are there any resources available for victims of crime in these neighborhoods?

Yes, there are resources available for crime victims across Washington, D.C. These include victim services programs, legal assistance, and counseling. Victims of crime can contact the DC Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC for more information on available resources.

How does Washington, D.C.’s crime rate compare to other major cities in the US?

Washington, D.C.’s crime rate is higher than the national average, but it is lower than many other major cities in the US. According to FBI data, Washington, D.C.’s violent crime and property crime rate is one in twenty. This means there’s a 1:20 chance you’ll be a victim of a crime in DC.

Are there any areas of Washington, D.C. that are considered safe?

Yes, there are many areas of Washington, D.C., that are considered safe. Along with the other previously mentioned safer DC neighborhoods, Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom have lower crime rates and are popular with tourists. However, it’s important to remember that crime can happen anywhere and to take precautions to stay safe no matter where you are in the city.

What can be done to address the root causes of crime in these neighborhoods?

Addressing the root causes of crime in Washington, D.C. requires a multifaceted approach. That includes investment in education, job training, affordable housing, and more community resources.

It also requires addressing systemic issues like poverty and inequality that contribute to higher crime rates. While there is no single solution to these complex issues, investing in these areas could make a significant difference in the lives of the people who live there.

How do residents of these neighborhoods view their communities?

The views of residents of highly dangerous neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., are, again, diverse and complex. Some residents feel a deep connection to their communities and are committed to improving them. Others feel frustrated and disillusioned with the lack of resources and opportunities available to them.

Additionally, residents may have different opinions about the role of the police and other authorities in their communities.

Are there any success stories of DC neighborhoods that have improved their safety?

Yes, there are many success stories of neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., that have improved their safety through community engagement and investment in resources.

For example, the H Street Corridor in Northeast DC was once considered a dangerous area but has since undergone significant revitalization. This happened through investments in businesses, housing, and public spaces. Through community-led efforts, its residents have also seen improvements in safety and quality of life.

Want to Become an Active Part of US Crime Mitigation?

If so, then how about actually working in the field?

If this speaks to you, you could start by looking at a Crime Scene Investigator Job Description or learning How to Become a Paramedic. We can also offer in-depth guidance on How to Become a Correctional Officer or How To Become A Police Officer.

But no need to stop there…

Find out How to Become an FBI ProfilerHow To Become a CIA Agent, and even How to Become a Secret Service Agent in 2023!

Want more US stats and crime info?

Well, we can give you that too! Check out the 10 Most Dangerous States in the US, these 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US, as well as the Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in NYC, and the 10 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Chicago. Simply search our website for your neighborhoods of interest.

Right, back to today’s dangerous neighborhood alert

Final Thoughts

Washington, D.C., is a city with many diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and challenges. While some neighborhoods are known for being dangerous, it’s important to remember that these areas are also home to many hard-working and resilient residents who are working to improve their communities.

To stay safe while exploring the city, you should be aware of your surroundings and take ample precautions, like traveling in groups and avoiding walking alone at night. Additionally, it’s important to support local businesses and organizations that are working to make their neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

Overall, you should be respectful of the residents who live there and avoid stereotyping. You should also be open to experiencing the unique cultures and communities that can be found in these areas. By doing so, you can make the most of your stay/visit in any one of these DC neighborhoods.

Wishing you safe experiences, always!

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