Ryan Finnigan

Housing & homelessness policy researcher

About me

I research homelessness and housing policy using diverse data and methods. I worked directly with people experiencing homelessness and  collaborated with homelessness service providers and policymakers.


Associate Research Director
Terner Center for Housing Innovation
University of California, Berkeley


PhD, Sociology, Duke University 2013

MA, Sociology, Duke University 2010

BA, Sociology, Indiana University 2007

BS, Mathematics, Indiana University 2007

Homelessness in California

Statewide Assessment of California's Homelessness Programs

In 2022–23, I was one of the lead researchers for a statewide assessment of homelessness services, shelter, and housing programs in California. The study was a collaboration between the Terner Center, Abt  Associates, and UCSF's Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. Our teams analyzed administrative data on millions of enrollments in local homelessness programs; interviewed 234 local administrators, service providers, and other stakeholders; interviewed 79 people with lived experience of homelessness; and surveyed non-profit homelessness service providers across the state. This study was supported by the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH).

Cal ICH submitted a report to the legislature, and the Terner Center published a collaborative series of reports presenting the study's findings. 

Selected Policy Briefs and Reports

Ryan Finnigan. 2024. "Stretched to Capacity: The Challenges Facing California’s Homelessness Service Providers." Terner Center for Housing Innovation

Ryan Finnigan. 2023. "Better housing outcomes for families and veterans point to the importance of well-resourced and targeted homelessness programs."   Terner Center for Housing Innovation  (pdf version)

Ryan Finnigan. 2023. "Five Recent Trends in Homelessness in California." Terner Center for Housing Innovation

Christi Economy, Ryan Finnigan, and Marisa Espinoza. 2023. "Using Emergency Housing Vouchers to Address Homelessness." Terner Center for Housing Innovation  (pdf version)

Ryan Finnigan. 2022. "Shelter and Safety Among People Experiencing Homelessness During the COVID-19 Pandemic." Terner Center for Housing Innovation

Carolina Reid, Ryan Finnigan, and Shazia Manji. 2022. "California’s Homekey Program: Unlocking Housing Opportunities for People Experiencing Homelessness." Terner Center for Housing Innovation 

Ryan Finnigan. 2021. "Survey of People Experiencing Homelessness in Sacramento, 2021

Ryan Finnigan. 2021. “Pandemic Compounds Hardships for People Experiencing Homelessness in Sacramento, CA.UC Davis Center for Poverty Research

Ryan Finnigan. 2020. "Greater Resources Required to Protect People Experiencing Homelessness from COVID-19." UC Davis Center for Poverty Research

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Ryan Finnigan.  2023. "Covid-19 Vaccination and Hesitancy among People Experiencing Homelessness in Sacramento, California." International Journal on Homelessness
(open-access publication)     (pre-print pdf)

Ryan Finnigan. 2022. "Self-Reported Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic for People Experiencing Homelessness in Sacramento, California" Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness  
(open-access publication

Ryan Finnigan.  2021. "The Growth and Shifting Spatial Distribution of Tent Encampments in Oakland, California." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences​

(link to publication)     (article pdf with appendices)

Work in Progress

Ryan Finnigan.  "'I just can’t be out there': Gender and Perceived Safety among People Experiencing Homelessness during the Covid-19 Pandemic."
(pre-print pdf)

Poverty & Hardship

Peer-Reviewed Publications

David Brady, Regina Baker, and Ryan Finnigan. Forthcoming. "The Role of Single Motherhood in America’s High Child Poverty." Demography
(pre-publication version)

David Brady, Ryan Finnigan, Ulrich Kohler, and Joscha Legewie. 2020.  “The Inheritance of Race Revisited: Childhood Wealth and Income, and Black-White Disadvantages in Adult Life Chances.” Sociological Science

(open-access publication)     (replication code on Dave Brady's website)

Ryan Finnigan and Kelsey D. Meagher. 2019. “Past Due: Combinations of Housing and Utility Hardship in the United States.” Sociological Perspectives

(link to article)    (pdf)    (replication package)

Bill McCarthy, Angela Carter, Mikael Janson, Cecilia Benoit, and Ryan Finnigan. 2018. “Poverty, Material Hardship, and Mental Health among Workers in Three Frontline Service Occupations.” Journal of Poverty 

(link to article)     (pdf)

David Brady, Ryan Finnigan, and Sabine Huebgen. 2017. “Rethinking the Demographic Risks of Poverty: Prevalences and Penalties in Comparative Perspective.” American Journal of Sociology

(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication package on Dave Brady's website)

Ryan Finnigan. 2014. “Racial and Ethnic Stratification in the Relationship between Homeownership and Self-Rated Health.” Social Science & Medicine

(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication code)

​David Brady, Regina Baker, and Ryan Finnigan. 2013. “When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the U.S.” American Sociological Review

(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication code on Dave Brady's website)

​​Policy Briefs​ & Op-Ed

Ryan Finnigan and Kelsey D. Meagher. 2018. "Missed Housing and Utility Payments are Common and Persistent in the United States." UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research

David Brady, Ryan Finnigan, and Sabine Hübgen. February 8th 2018. “Single Mothers Are Not the Problem.The New York Times

Ryan Finnigan. 2018. “Risk Factors for Poverty Are Stronger in the US than Many Other Countries.UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research

Unstable Work Schedules & Labor Market Inequality

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Ryan Finnigan and Savannah Hunter. 2022. “Policy Regulation of Precarious Work Schedules and Bottom-Up Enforcement: An Evaluation of State Reporting Pay Polices.” Social Forces 

(link to article)     (pre-print pdf)    (replication package)

Ryan Finnigan. 2020. “Rainbow-Collar Jobs? Occupational Segregation by Sexual Orientation in the United States.” Socius 

(open-access publication)    (replication package

Ryan Finnigan and Savannah Hunter. 2019. “Occupational Composition and Racial/Ethnic Inequalities in Varying Weekly Work Hours,” Research in the Sociology of Work
(link to article)     (pdf)   (replication package)

Ryan Finnigan. 2018. “Varying Weekly Work Hours and Earnings Instability in the Great Recession.” Social Science Research

(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication package)

Ryan Finnigan and Jo Mhairi Hale. 2018. “Working 9 to 5? Union Membership and Work Hours and Schedules.” Social Forces
(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication package)

​Policy Briefs

Ryan Finnigan and Savannah Hunter. 2023. "Increase Awareness and Enforcement of ‘Reporting Pay’ Policies to Mitigate Impacts of Precarious Work." UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research

Ryan Finnigan and Jo Mhairi Hale. 2018. “Growth in Irregular Work Increased Poverty During and After Great Recession.UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research

Social Policy & Public Attitudes

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Tarik Abou-Chadi and Ryan Finnigan. 2019. “Rights for Same-Sex Couples and Attitudes toward Gays and Lesbians in Europe.” Comparative Political Studies

(link to article)     (pdf)    (replication package)

David Brady and Ryan Finnigan. 2014. “Does Immigration Undermine Public Support for Social Policy?” American Sociological Review 

(link to article)     (pdf)     (replication code on Dave Brady's website)

Selected Media & Public Presentations

Presentation: Ryan Finnigan. 2024. "Six Findings from Research on Permanent Supportive Housing in California." Housing California Annual Conference, March 7th.

Interview: Dan Mitchinson. 2023. "The U.S. homelessness rate rises from 2022." KCBS Radio, December 15th. 

Interview: Alexis Madrigal. 2023. "Bay Area Suburbs Struggle with Rising Homelessness." KQED Forum, October 9th.

Interview: Randol White. 2022. "Few California workers know they're entitled to pay when a shift is cut short, study finds." Capitol Public Radio, February 4th.

Interview: Beth Ruyak. 2018. "Is There Power in a Union?" Insight on Capitol Public Radio, July 17th. 

Interview: Rebecca Greenfield. 2016. "Worker Hours Are More Unpredictable than Ever." Bloomberg, August 22nd. 

Interview: Kathy Gurchiek. 2016. "Schedule Instability Reflects Changes in How Work Is Conducted." HR News, September 1st.​​

"Homelessness in California and the COVID-19 Pandemic," The Inland Empire Poverty Summit, University of California, Riverside

"The Experience of Poverty amid Plenty in the Bay Area," webinar sponsored by the Tipping Point Community, UC Berkeley Othering and Belonging Institute, UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, July 28, 2020

Teaching (UC Davis)

Soc 003: Social Problems
2014 through 2020

People talk about social issues being problems all the time, but what gets labeled a problem? Who decides what problems are, and why? Soc 3 will introduce you to sociological approaches to understanding social problems, which emphasize the way problems that may seem like individual troubles often reflect larger social issues. Examining these issues systematically can provide a new perspective on the origins of a given social problem, and may contradict many common sense explanations. The course surveys a variety of things that are labeled social problems (e.g., poverty, the gender pay gap, discrimination, crime/incarceration, immigration, etc.), and analyzes how they are shaped by social dimensions like race, class, and gender. The course will also address how social issues become problems, and compare and contrast current data on social problems with media portrayal and public opinion.

Soc 159: Sociology of Work and Employment
2019 through 2021

Most people in will spend a substantial fraction of their time working for most of their lives. Work also structures many people’s social lives and economic well-being. Sociologically understanding society thus requires a deep understanding of work. How do social factors like class, gender, and race shape who works, who does what kind of work, and how that work is valued? This course addresses these questions through reading sociological theories and research, case studies of particular groups of workers and kinds of jobs, and analysis of primary data on workers and workplaces.

Soc 141: Industrialization and Social Change

Many people use the term 'industrialization' in many ways. For some, industrialization was a historical process centered on changes in forms of production. For others, industrialization is a continuing process related to development and globalization. Despite such ambiguity, industrialization is often highlighted as a source of profound changes in work, economies, politics, cities, and families. Moreover, these consequences are highly varied across time and place. Soc 141 covers classical perspectives on industrialization, contemporary analyses of its consequences, and the role of (de)industrialization for patterns of inequality in the US and around the world. 

Soc 295: Seminar on Stratification
2017 through 2021

​This course surveys foundational and contemporary studies of stratification. Paired weeks address a topical area within stratification (e.g., class/mobility, poverty, race/ethnicity, gender). Hopefully, these pairings help characterize (a small part of) the broad sociological literature within each area. The readings can also provide a partial foundation for a qualifying exam in stratification.

Soc 046B: Intro Statistics
2015 through 2021

Sociological understandings of society and inequality can only be as good as the data they rely on. So how do we know what we know when relying on statistical information? Soc 46B introduces methods for analyzing quantitative data to help answer this question, with specific applications to classic research questions on poverty, inequality, and social mobility. We can understand quantitative information better when we know where it comes from. Soc 46B covers the relevance and practice of quantitative data analysis, the presentation of quantitative information, probability and uncertainty, basic statistical inference, and hypothesis testing. The course teaches both how to calculate relevant statistics, and to read and interpret quantitative sociological articles. Specifically, Soc 46B aims to fill UCD requirements for learning quantitative literacy. The course also provides a foundation for more advanced quantitative methods courses, like Soc 106. 

Soc 12Y: Data Visualization in the Social Sciences
2018 through 2020

Introduction to quantitative data across social sciences, including organizing data, describing data sets, graphing, and visual reasoning. In this course, students learn to...

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