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Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Bucknell University
My research interests include urban homelessness, neighborhood effects, and racial-ethnic inequalities in the present-day United States. My teaching interests include introductory sociology, social inequality, and urban sociology. In the broadest sense, I consider myself an inequality scholar focused on understanding how practical applications of social theory and methods can help us to develop frameworks for social progress. This focus permeates both my research and teaching.
Homelessness and low-income housing, social stratification, urban sociology
Laura Tach (chair), Steven Alvarado, Kendra Bischoff
On the Determinants of Homelessness in U.S. Metropolitan Areas
Research over the last three decades has defined the variation in local rates of homelessness across U.S. metropolitan areas as contingent on structural factors related to housing and labor markets and local environmental features such as average temperatures. The purpose of this dissertation is to expand on this understanding. Written as three stand-alone articles, I explore a set of drivers potentially influencing local homelessness rates that have yet to be analyzed via rigorous statistical methods. In chapter one, I investigate the relationship between income segregation and local homelessness rates. I find a positive association between the spatial segregation of low-income households and the prevalence of the condition, which confirms qualitative research suggesting that homelessness thrives when poorness is highly concentrated and homelessness can be obscured from advantaged social actors and prime economic spaces. In chapter two, I examine associations between local eviction rates and rates of (1) total, (2) sheltered, (3) unsheltered, (4) individual, and (5) family homelessness. I arrive at a series of null results. I argue that these findings are likely due to the prevalence of informal forced moves which are not captured by official eviction records. Because formal eviction rates do not accurately capture the extent of housing instability among (primarily) low-income renters, corresponding measures will not necessarily be associated with rates of homelessness even if the underlying relationship between forced moves and homelessness is valid. In the final chapter, I explore the relationship between average local temperatures and rates of unsheltered homelessness. While this bivariate relationship is strong and positive, it is considerably mediated by local stocks of homeless shelter beds relative to total homeless population sizes. This finding suggests that those warmer communities that drive this positive relationship between temperature and unsheltered homelessness generally undersupply shelter beds. Upon further exploration, I find that communities that undersupply shelter beds also tend to be located in more expensive rental markets and score lower on measures of social capital, broadly implying that beds are more likely to be undersupplied when the social distance between the housed and homeless increases.