David Rusk

Senior Fellow
D.C. Policy Center

David Rusk combines strong analytical skills with practical political experience. He is a former federal Labor Department official, New Mexico legislator, and mayor of Albuquerque, the USA’s 32nd largest city.

Now a consultant on urban policy, Rusk has worked in over 130 US communities in 35 states.  Abroad, Rusk has lectured on urban problems in Canada, England, Germany, South Africa, and The Netherlands.

The Congressional Quarterly labeled Rusk’s Cities without Suburbs “the Bible of the regionalism movement.” “A must read,” said the Government Finance Review of Inside Game/Outside Game.

In 1991, he and his wife, the former Delcia Bence of Buenos Aires, Argentina, returned from Albuquerque to Washington, DC.   They had lived here from 1963 to 1971 when Rusk worked for the Washington Urban League (March on Washington to Poor People’s Campaign) and where all three of their children were born.

David is an ardent fan of DC United and champion of Buzzard Point, its new soccer stadium in D.C.’s oldest neighborhood.

D.C. Policy Center contributors are independent writers, and we gladly encourage the expression of a variety of perspectives. The views of our contributors, published here or elsewhere, do not reflect the views of the D.C. Policy Center.

Written By David Rusk

Concentrated Poverty – The Critical Mass

Many sociologists have described the effects of concentrated poverty, but in speaking about concentrated poverty to audiences around the country, I’ve found it most helpful to use an analogy from nuclear physics. All of us go through life with a certain level of stress that produces a level of background “radiation.” Usually,…

September 13, 2018 | David Rusk

The Great Sort: Part III

In “The Great Sort: Part I” and “The Great Sort: Part II” I documented that over the past half century poor Black residents and affluent Black residents have increasingly sorted themselves out into different neighborhoods throughout Metro Washington. In short, the Black population has become more economically polarized geographically. Indeed, the second article…

July 18, 2018 | David Rusk

The Great Sort: Part II

In “The Great Sort: Part I,” I documented the increasing economic segregation within the Black community in the Metropolitan Washington region. I did so by showing the degree to which poor Black residents and affluent Black residents had increasingly come to live in different neighborhoods as measured by metro-wide statistics both in…

July 11, 2018 | David Rusk

The Great Sort: Part I

I spent much of the 1960s as a full-time civil rights worker. From shortly after the great March on Washington of August 1963 through the Poor People’s Campaign of May-June 1968, I worked for the Washington Urban League, rising to assistant director under Sterling Tucker, our executive director. I remember well the…

June 26, 2018 | David Rusk

Economic segregation is replacing racial segregation in large U.S. metro areas

Over the past several decades, Black residential segregation in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. has slowly but steadily decreased, dropping from a segregation index of 81 (hyper-segregation) in 1970 to 61 (nearing medium segregation) in 2014. Over roughly that same period, however, the level of economic residential polarization in the metropolitan…

October 12, 2017 | David Rusk

Hispanic Segregation – Immigrant Ponding or Perpetual Barrios?

Over the past half century, the level of Black residential segregation in metropolitan Washington declined steadily, decade by decade. The Black segregation index (see an explanation of it here) dropped from 81 (hyper-segregation) to 61 (the threshold of medium segregation). Residential segregation of Hispanics in metropolitan Washington has followed a reverse trend….

September 21, 2017 | David Rusk

Suburbia: The Promised Land?

In 1970, metropolitan Washington was more residentially segregated than DC proper. The 10-jurisdiction region had a black/white segregation index of 81 (hyper-segregation) compared its central city’s segregation index of 72 (high segregation). Almost a half century later, in 2015, the now 22-jurisdiction region’s Black/Anglo segregation index was 61 compared to the central city’s 70…

August 16, 2017 | David Rusk

Goodbye to Chocolate City

D.C. is no longer “Chocolate City.” In fact, the District of Columbia now joins New Mexico, California and Texas as states without any one racial group forming a majority of the population [1]. (Of course, unlike those three, our “state” doesn’t have a vote in Congress.) Our case is unique in that, in…

July 20, 2017 | David Rusk

Once Upon A Time In NoMa: Part II

In Part I, I didn’t note the most visible change in the old Urban League Neighborhood Development Program area – a gaping trench that holds I-395, emerging from its tunnel under the Mall, filling a vanished Second Street widened to the alleyway between Second and Third, then jogging slightly west under the…

June 14, 2017 | David Rusk

Once Upon A Time In NoMa

With a pang of nostalgia, in my previous article I called attention to “all the high-rise apartments and condominiums that have sprung up in NoMA in the past two decades.” More than a half century ago I worked in that very neighborhood long before NoMa was ever imagined by city planners and…

June 5, 2017 | David Rusk

Thermometer of City Health: Count Households, Not Noses

In my inaugural article for the D.C. Policy Center  I noted that from 1950 to 2010, as the region’s central city, Washington DC had lost 25 percent of its population “by nose count but [that was] offset by a 19 percent increase to total households.” How can that be? You can discover…

May 30, 2017 | David Rusk

From Pilot Small’s to Washington Dulles: Measuring Urban Sprawl

Bird’s-eye view of DC metro area then and now My father took me on my first airplane ride in 1950. It was on a DC-3 that took off from Washington National for a half-hour sightseeing flight over Washington, DC.  (That’s a measure of how uncommon air travel was almost 70 years ago.)…

April 27, 2017 | David Rusk