tim thomas Ph.D.

Urban sociologist, social demographer, and data scientist.
Research Director at UC Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project.
Director of the Eviction Research Network.
Researching racial disparities in housing, urban displacement,
and neighborhood change.

I am currently an assistant professor researcher at U.C. Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, research director for U.C. Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, and training lead for the NIH-funded Computational Social Science Training Program at the Berkeley Institute of Data Science. I am also the director of the Eviction Research Network, a multi-University collaboration enumerating racial and gender disparities in eviction by collecting and mining court and sheriff records.

I am an urban sociologist, demographer, and data scientist researching the social, political, and economic drivers of racial, gender, and socio-economic stratification in housing and migration. My research program is centered around developing new tools to measure gentrification, displacement, and eviction. From 2017 to 2019 I was a postdoc at the University of Washington’s eScience Institute where I linked and analyzed HMIS and housing authority data. In 2019, I started the Evictions Study (now the Eviction Research Network) where my team and I used natural language processing to mine addresses from court records and estimate demographics, which provided empirical evidence for Washington State and Baltimore City to help pass several tenant protection laws. In 2020, I led a team at the Urban Displacement Project to map gentrification and displacement in several U.S. cities and also developed the Housing Precarity Risk Model (HPRM) to predict where households vulnerable to displacement and eviction were located due to the pandemic. This work helped to identify vulnerability within their cities, motivated the CDC’s eviction moratorium extension, and led to an invitation where I currently advise the White House’s Executive Office of the President, HUD, and the Treasury Department on eviction trends and rental assistance program. Other projects include writing reports on the effects of eviction on health and families by invitation from the National Academy of Sciences and developing machine learning prediction models on displacement risk using household level data. I am also leading a national eviction data collection to advance research on this topic by creating a panel dataset linked to administrative, health, and other individual level data. Finally, I provide training and mentorship at U.C. Berkeley in research and data science for graduate and undergraduate students.

My research and teaching interests include urban sociology, race & ethnicity, neighborhood change, residential segregation, housing & poverty, residential mobility, social organization, data dcience, statistics, and spatial demography.