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Thomas, Ph.D.

Principal Associate

Dr. Hannah Thomas, a sociologist and geographer, brings over 20 years of experience in qualitative and mixed methods research addressing housing and economic inequality. Her work has ranged across the fields of housing, guaranteed income, workforce development, the racial wealth gap, community development, mortgages, and asset building. Dr. Thomas has worked with a range of clients from federal agencies such as the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Health and Human Services, to cities, states, and non-profits. She brings a participant and implementation orientation towards her research and helps produce methodological solutions in service of the end users of programs and policies.

Dr. Thomas’ research has helped frame national policy conversations. Her recent work with colleagues from the Office of Policy Research and Evaluation within the department of Health and Human Services involves conducting participant interviews in career pathways program and bringing their experiences to the forefront of career pathway program design. Her work with colleagues evaluating guaranteed income pilots for the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income helps bring participant experience to the framing of the national policy conversation. While Dr. Thomas’ work contributes to national policy conversations, her work also breaks ground methodologically. As Director of Analysis on the Moving to Work landlord incentives demonstration for HUD, she is leading a study using a unique methodology—the Qualitative Impact Protocol. This study will be the first of its kind in the United States using a methodological approach developed at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.  

Over the course of her career, Dr. Thomas’ mixed methods work has informed a variety of national policy conversations. Her work at Brandeis University on the racial wealth gap informed Ford Foundation investments in research on employment capital and contributed to the national framing of drivers of the racial wealth gap. Methodological innovations, such as participant focused ethnographic research with HUD on the Rapid Rehousing Program, has deepened policymakers’ understanding of ways to strengthen the program.  


  • Affordable housing and homeownership programs targeted to low-resourced households (Housing Choice Voucher, Family Self-Sufficiency, housing counseling, mortgage lending and foreclosure prevention)
  • Economic resilience and mobility programs (children’s savings accounts, guaranteed income, career pathways, community development)
  • Equity focused approach to research design, implementation, and dissemination activities
  • Qualitative research studies (interview studies, focus groups, participant observation, and Qualitative Impact Protocol) 
  • Mixed Methods research
  • Implementation evaluations (ranging from developmental evaluations to process and implementation studies)

Key Projects:

  • Co-Lead Guaranteed Income Portfolio
  • Co-Principle Investigator, Evaluation of Guaranteed Income pilots, Mayor’s for a Guaranteed Income (2021-Current) Co-principle investigator for a mixed methods evaluation of seven guaranteed income pilot sites across the United States.
  • Project Quality Reviewer, Evaluation of City of Alameda Guaranteed Income pilot (2023-Current)
  • Director of Qualitative Analysis, Moving to Work 4 Evaluation, Department of Housing and Urban Development (2021-Current) Leading Qualitative Impact Protocol study of landlords behavior change as a result of Moving to Work 4 landlord incentives at Public Housing Agencies across the United States.
  • Principle Investigator, Accessibility Audit of Los Angeles Multifamily Properties, City of Los Angeles (2020 to Current) Overseeing qualitative components of the audit including design and conducting interviews with property owners, property managers, and residents with disabilities.
  • Task Lead, HPOG Participant Interviews, Department of Health and Human Services (2017–ongoing). Responsible for the design, OMB review, managing data collection (14 sites and 153 interviews) and analysis team, and completing three policy briefs.


  • Thomas, Hannah. 2022. One Step at a Time: Participant Perspectives on Career Pathways, OPRE Report 2022-48. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Jefferson, A. and Thomas, H. 2020.Mortgage Journeys: A Video Ethnography of the Homebuying and Mortgage Process.” Cityscape.
  • Lubell, J. and Thomas, H. “Unlocking the Potential of HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program to Expand Financial Coaching and Asset-Building Opportunities for Households with Low Incomes” Abt Global Policy Brief 2019 Abt Global. June 2019.
  • Thomas, H., Mann, A., Meschede, T. 2018. “Race and Location: The Role Neighborhoods Play in Family Wealth and Well-Being.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 77(3-4): 1077-1111
  • Meschede, T., Thomas, H., Mann, A., Stagg, A., and Shapiro, T. 2016. “Wealth Mobility of Families Raising Children in the 21st Century.” Race and Social Problems. 8(1)
  • Thomas, H. 2015. “Preserving Community Assets: Foreclosure Sales and the Neighborhood” Housing Policy Debate. 25(4) 649-683



Hannah Thomas