Ohio offers a variety of attractions, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and stunning natural scenery. However, not every city in Ohio shares the same level of safety and prosperity.
Certain cities experience elevated crime rates, lower incomes, and a lower overall quality of life. According to recent FBI statistics and other reliable sources, one city, in particular, stands out as the least desirable place to live in Ohio: Chillicothe.
What Makes Chillicothe the Worst City to Live in Ohio?
Chillicothe, a small city of 21,748 people, is situated approximately 50 miles south of Columbus. It was once Ohio’s capital, but now it’s known for having the highest crime rate in the state.
In 2020, according to the FBI, Chillicothe reported 475 violent crimes and 7,268 property crimes, equating to 3,495 crimes per 100,000 residents. This is 248% higher than Ohio’s average crime rate and surpasses that of 99% of other American cities.
The most prevalent offenses in Chillicothe include assault, robbery, burglary, and auto theft. The odds of falling victim to a violent crime in Chillicothe are 1 in 46, while the odds of being a victim of a property crime are 1 in 3.
These statistics are concerning, especially given that Chillicothe covers only 10.5 square miles, indicating a concentration of crime in a small area.
Several factors contribute to the high crime rate in Chillicothe, including poverty, unemployment, and drug abuse. The poverty rate in Chillicothe is 27.4%, nearly double the state average of 14.9%. The median household income in Chillicothe is $38,026, lower than the state average of $56,602.
Chillicothe’s unemployment rate is 9.1%, surpassing the state average of 5.5%. The lack of economic opportunities and social services in Chillicothe creates a cycle of despair and desperation for many residents, leading some to turn to crime as a means of survival or escape.
Another significant issue in Chillicothe is the opioid epidemic, which has plagued the city for years. Chillicothe is located in Ross County, which has one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in Ohio. In 2019, Ross County recorded 54 drug overdose deaths, equivalent to 66.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.
This is more than three times the state average of 20.7 deaths per 100,000 residents. The primary substances involved in these deaths are fentanyl, heroin, and prescription opioids.
The widespread addiction and overdose crisis in Chillicothe have not only claimed numerous lives, but have also contributed to the rise in crime, violence, and homelessness in the city.
What Can Be Done to Improve Chillicothe?
Chillicothe is currently facing multiple challenges, but it’s not a lost cause. There are ongoing efforts to improve the city’s situation, including:
- The Chillicothe Police Department has introduced several initiatives to address crime and drug abuse. These include the Community Crime Reduction Team, Drug Abuse Response Team, Neighborhood Watch Program, and Crime Stoppers Program. These initiatives aim to increase police visibility, strengthen trust between law enforcement and the community, and offer support to those struggling with addiction.
- The Chillicothe City Schools District has launched the Chillicothe Promise program. It provides eligible Chillicothe High School graduates with free tuition and fees for two years at Ohio University-Chillicothe or Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center. The program is funded through private donations and grants, with the goal of boosting educational achievements and career prospects for Chillicothe students.
- The Chillicothe-Ross Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that backs various projects and programs benefiting Chillicothe and Ross County residents. These include initiatives in arts and culture, health and wellness, education and youth, as well as community development. The foundation grants scholarships, manages endowment funds, and fosters partnerships and collaborations across different sectors and stakeholders.
Here are some instances of positive steps being taken to tackle the issues in Chillicothe. Nevertheless, further efforts are required to improve Chillicothe as a livable city. The city requires increased investment, innovation, and participation from the government, private sector, and civil society.
Additionally, the city needs more backing, unity, and empowerment from its residents. It is only through collective effort that Chillicothe can surmount its challenges and realize its full potential.