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Columbia, the venerated planned suburb in Howard County, was rated the safest city in the U.S. in a recent study ― for the third straight year.
The financial website WalletHub used 42 metrics to gauge the safety of major metropolitan areas. Baltimore was rated the 155th safest city out of 182 studied. Washington, D.C., finished 160th.
Howard County government and Columbia civic leaders hailed the news.
“This accolade is a testament to the excellent quality of life we cherish in Howard County,” County Executive Calvin Ball (D) said in a statement. “For many of us, home is somewhere you feel secure and part of an inclusive community. We all want to be and feel safe in our neighborhoods. I want to thank our police officers, firefighters and paramedics, social workers, community advocates, and engaged residents for working together to achieve this honor for our community once again.”
Columbia was ranked No. 4 in the broad category of home and community safety ― a measure of crime and public health statistics, traffic and pedestrian safety, the number of first responders per capita, the homeless population, public perceptions of safety, and more.
Columbia was No. 63 on the list of cities when it came to risk for natural disasters and No. 7 on the list for financial safety ― including the unemployment rate, job security, bankruptcy filings, personal debt, the number of residents without health or auto insurance, credit scores, and more.
“You can’t have a thriving community without a strong sense of safety,” said Milton Matthews, president and CEO of the Columbia Association. “This latest national ranking further proves that everyone living and working in Columbia is committed to creating a place where physical and mental health, financial opportunities and emergency response are an ongoing priority.”
Rounding out the top 10 safest cities list: South Burlington, Vt.; Plano, Texas; Nashua, N.H.; Lewiston, Maine; Burlington, Vt.; Salem, Ore.; Virginia Beach; Raleigh, N.C.; and Gilbert, Ariz. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was rated the least safe city in the U.S.
Baltimore was rated No. 1 in the category of fewest reported hate crimes per capita.