Housing is the platform for health, well-being, and wealth building. Therefore, the lack of quality affordable housing can have detrimental consequences to family outcomes. My interest in housing planning and policy and the spatial distribution of racial and ethnic groups developed early in my graduate education and remains a central aspect of my research. My work in this area as focused on the evaluation of federal housing programs, such as Public Housing, the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and HOPE VI, and their effectiveness in providing quality housing in resource rich neighborhoods. In addition, my work examined NIMBY attitudes as barriers to affordable housing supply. Recently, my research on housing has incorporated a structural inequality and systems perspective to investigate the intersection of housing with other key institutions that shape a stratified social structure, including education, employment, healthcare, transportation, and social services.
In addition to examining systems of structural inequality, I have also taken a longer historical view on how these systems are created. I created, produced, and co-wrote the script for a multi-media performance, “In the Shadows of Ferguson” that provides a 100+ year history of housing and urban policies that shaped St. Louis’ segregated housing patterns. The show is bookended with two Fergusons, beginning with the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that legalized “separate but equal” facilities for Blacks and ending with the shooting of Mike Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri. It combines social science methods with performing arts, an area rarely charted by urban planners, yet a medium that can be a catalyst for difficult discussions about the historic legacy of racism within housing and urban systems. The show incorporates video imagery, music, spoken word, and acting that was assembled from archival data, interviews of St. Louis residents and activists, quantitative data analysis, and animated mapping. The first public performance was held on UNC’s campus on December 8, 2017 and was sold out. In collaboration with a professional film maker, I have turned the multi-media performance into a film and am currently in the process of creating a multimedia traveling installation. The goal of this project is to translate housing and urban policy to a broader audience in order to facilitate dialogue about institutional racism that can lead to societal awareness and change.
 Nguyen, Mai Thi, William Rohe, Kirstin Frescoln*, Michael Webb, Mary Donegan*, and Hye-Sung Han*. 2016. Mobilizing Social Capital: Which Informal and Formal Supports Affect Employment Outcomes for Relocated Public Housing Residents? Housing Studies 31(7): 785-808. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi, Michael Webb, and Estefany Noria*, and William Rohe. 2016. Beyond Neighborhood Quality: The Role of Residential Instability, Employment Access, and Location Affordability in Shaping Work Outcomes for HOPE VI Participants. Housing Policy Debate 26(4-5), 733-749. DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2016.1195423 [Article]
 Webb, Michael, William Rohe, Mai Thi Nguyen, and Kirstin Frescoln*. 2017. Finding HOPE: Changes in Depressive Symptomology Following Relocation from Distressed Public Housing. Journal of Social Science and Medicine: 190:165-173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.08.020 [Article]
 Frescoln, Kirstin,* Mai Thi Nguyen, William Rohe, and Michael Webb. 2017. “I was scared over there” – Family Well-being After Relocation from a Distressed Public Housing Development. International Public Health Journal: 221-240. [Article]
 Frescoln, Kirstin P.,* Nguyen, Mai Thi, Rohe, William and Webb, Michael D. To Work or Not to Work? – Examining the Health Impacts of a Work Requirement in Public Housing. Under Review at CityScape: Special Issue on Health and Housing. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi and Ashley Archer Tindall. 2017. “In the Shadows of Ferguson.” Available at: https://vimeo.com/247598465/90ab3c37c6. Archer Films.
 Nguyen, Mai Thi. 2014. Asheville, North Carolina Affordable Housing Scorecard. City of Asheville, North Carolina. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi and Cara Wittekind*. 2014. Short-Term Rental Programs, Policies, and Practices: Applications for the City of Asheville, NC. City of Asheville, North Carolina. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi. April 15, 2015. Regulating AirBnB and short-term rentals. Raleigh News & Observer | Op-Ed. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi. March 26, 2015. A Roadmap to Regulating AirBnB and short-term rentals. Center for Urban and Regional Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill | Blogpost. [Article]
 Nguyen, Mai Thi, Frescoln, Kirstin*, Martin, Amanda*, Peterson, Jonathan*, and Samantha Farley*. 2017. Recovering Affordable Housing in Eastern North Carolina Post-Hurricane Matthew: A Strategy Forward. Chapel Hill, NC: Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative.