Why Is Benton Harbor So Dangerous? 7 Key Reasons

Banton Harbor Street Image

Benton Harbor is well-known as the marketing and trucking center for Michigan’s fruit belt. It is also a very popular tourist region.  As much as beautiful and charming Benton Harbor City is, it’s also unsafe for long-term living purposes.

But, why is Benton Harbor so dangerous?

It’s because it falls under the category of Michigan’s most dangerous cities. In a study carried by CBSnews, Benton Harbor has has been ranked most dangerous city in Michigan. High crime rates , unemployment, and lack of medical facilities are the primary reasons which makes this place dangerous as well as not fruitful for living.

Whether you are looking to buy a property in Benton Harbor, just going there for a vacation, or want to live there, there are some things that you should know before visiting that place.

In this article, we are going to discuss some crucial things that you must know before going to Benton Harbor. How is Benton Harbor so dangerous, how is the living expenses, and how is the employment opportunities, and many more questions.

How Dangerous Is Benton Harbor?

Benton Harbor is a city with a population of 8,943, and a crime rate that is 472% higher than the Michigan average. In 2021, it was noted that the crime rate in Benton Harbor’s property was 202% higher than the Michigan’s average crime rate, which is a real problem.

In the property crime category, there were a total of 69 burglaries recorded in the year 2021, along with this, there were also two murders and eleven robberies in the same year.

There was another research done in 2022, and a rise in crime rates were recorded. The crime rate rose from 472% to 986%, which is double the previous year.

Why Is Benton Harbor So Dangerous?

Benton Harbor, Michigan is listed as one of the most dangerous places in the United States. There are some major factors like high unemployment, inadequate medical care, limited education, etc. responsible for the city’s dangerous nature.

To help you understand better why Benton Harbor is dangerous and unsafe for living, we will be discussing these factors:

High Crime Rates

Benton Harbor has had consistently high crime rates compared to other Michigan cities. In the year 2021, the crime rate was 202% higher than the national average, and later in 2022, the crime rate rose by 13% in comparison to last year’s record.

That means the violent crime rate rose from 472% to 986%, which is actually very concerning, this is double the national average.

There was a total of 69 burglaries, two murders, and eleven robberies, that too in the same year. About 1 out of 14 people become a victim of violent crime every year.


Benton Harbor has a population of 9.17k, out of which 99.2% are US citizens. Compared to other cities in Michigan, the poverty rate in Benton Harbor is very high.

There was a lack of proper educational facilities in Benton Harbor, which led to lots of people being unemployed, and that automatically resulted in high rates of poverty.

If we talk about the average household income, it’s around $41,132 with a poverty rate of 44.2%. And because of having high poverty rates, the crime rates also increased, the reason being people are unemployed and have no proper education.


Benton Harbor has a low cost of living compared to other cities in the US. While amenities such as, housing, and healthcare services are quite affordable, however, they are not within a reasonable distance.

It’s like you have to cross a bridge to get to the nearest hospital.

There are no proper educational centers, and elementary and high schools are inaccessible within local areas, which means limited access to educational opportunities.

As we have mentioned before, Benton Harbor has a high unemployment rate, which leads to widespread poverty and contributes to its high crime rates. And because of its high crime rate, this area becomes dangerous to live in.

Lead Contamination

Benton Harbor has been suffering from lead contamination and other toxins for decades. We all know that lead is dangerous for humans, it can cause developmental delays in children, cancer, mental disorders, premature death, and some other serious health-related issues.

However, there were some changes made in 2018, An act was started called the “Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act”, and Michigan brought the changes to lead and copper rule.

The governor’s office said that these changes would give the city the most stringent standard for drinking water.

Unfortunately, Benton Harbor’s sampled water failed six times consecutively to meet the standards over the last three years. People demanded action to correct the lead level in the drinking water.

Historical Reasons

In 1865, Brunson Harbor was given the new name that we all know now, Benton Harbor. Everything was going well for Benton Harbor, by the 1870s, a canal was made turning Benton Harbor into a lake port.

On that lake port, ships were loading more than 300,000 packages of fruits per year. Between the years 1872 to 1888, high schools, colleges, street railways, opera houses, factories, and a national bank were established, this was a great sign of rapid growth in Benton Harbor.

Benton Harbor became a tourist spot in the 1890s, people were visiting this place for their relaxation and amusement.

However, soon it started declining at the beginning of the 1960s, residents and industries began to move out of the city because of several factors.

Back to recent events, Benton Harbor residents complained of yellow and foul water coming out of their taps. After some tests, the results were shocking and concerning, water samples were collected from 30 homes, and out of them, eight homes had a high amount of lead present in it, which is very alarming. It was evident that the city’s water was beyond the regulatory trigger. 

Community Factors

Many of the Benton Harbor residents live under the poverty line. The reason is limited educational opportunities, which led to a rise in unemployment and this together resulted in high crime rates.

Based on recently done research, the cost of living at Benton Harbor is 22% less expensive than the average but the livability of this area is below the average.

There are limited job opportunities as the market is small, and people have to move out of the city to look for job opportunities.

The employment rate in Benton Harbor declined rapidly, from 3.71k to 3.55k employees, it declined at the rate of -4.39%.

The crime rate is 6,351 per 100k people, which is higher than the national average, which means the chances of you becoming a victim of violent crime are 1 out of 29.


Unemployment is a major problem in Benton Harbor, Michigan. High unemployment is the major factor that is responsible for the city’s overall poverty and crime rates.

It’s also responsible for other issues like reduced economic activities, a decrease in public revenue, and other society-related problems.

According to the United States Federal Reserve, in January 2022 it was recorded that the unemployment rate in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was 5.30%.

According to the most recent data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of Benton Harbor reached 4.50% in Fed 2024, in comparison to 4.30% last month.

Are All Places Equally Dangerous In Benton Harbor?

No, not all places are equally dangerous in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

It is true that the living conditions in Benton Harbor are unsafe and not for all but this can’t be said for every place in Benton Harbor. The danger levels can vary from place to place, depending on factors like crime rates, poverty levels, access to educational, industrial, and medical facilities, the socio-economic status of that area, etc.

It is also important to note that various environmental issues are going on in Benton Harbor that affect the livability of that area, such as toxic fumes, lead contamination, and other possible hazards, making those areas more dangerous than the other parts of the city.

People are struggling but still thriving within this environment, making their living.

Some of the best places to live in Benton Harbor are District 3, District 1B, and Harbor Shores, these neighborhoods are best in comparison to other areas.

The problem with lead contamination is still going on to this date, and actions are being taken to solve this problem but it’s going to take more time for the lead problem to get solved completely.

We can say that the areas with high crime rates, or higher levels of economic deprivation may be considered more dangerous compared to other areas with lower crime rates and that have easy access to resources.


In conclusion, Benton Harbor, Michigan, United States, is a dangerous place because of the environmental conditions there.

The residents are struggling with lead contamination in their water, toxic fumes, limited access to educational and medical facilities, high crime rates, and poverty levels. These factors all together contribute to the answer “why Benton Harbor is dangerous?”.

However, we should remember that not all places in Benton Harbor are dangerous, the danger level can vary from place to place, and some places have high crime rates, high poverty levels, limited access to industrial and medical facilities, the socio-economic status of that area.

These factors are responsible for affecting the livability of those areas. But there are some places which are safe and have easy access to facilities, making those areas a better option for living.


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