My name's Renz and I use they/them pronouns. Here's what I'm doing right now:
- in my research era at the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies 👾
- master's student of the University of Florida's Urban and Regional Planning program 🐊
- chairing Free Grocery Store, a local food pantry 🍍
- walking, biking, plant ecology, writing, and poetry 🚶🏽♂️🚲🌲✍🏽🌻
Although I trace my heritage to Central Luzon in the Philippines, my geography is rooted firmly in the Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida. My hometown, Sebring, is a haven for rare scrub mints and fragrant thorny shrubs, destination for an oddly high concentration of immigrant Filipino medical industry workers, and a housing developer's playground in the collapse of Florida's citrus industry. My emotional inspiration arises from the interplay of these things experienced through a queer lens.
I left Florida in 2015 for a brief stint in the Great Lakes followed by a more lasting settlement in the Puget Sound. On its many rivers and lowlands I learned about the geography of Douglas-firs and red-cedars, the migration of Pacific salmon, and even apples. In Seattle I saw struggle for space by the Black community of Central District, by the Duwamish for tribal recognition and cultural revival, and a broad fight against displacement in an increasingly unaffordable, whitening city. My penchant for exploring spatial narratives comes from these experiences.
After undergrad I was drawn back to my roots in Florida, moving up to Gainesville before the pandemic. In my time in Gainesville I've grown much more into a capacity for building community through FGS and the Labor Coalition, and doing the research that informs that work. Now, as a research assistant for the Shimberg Center, I primarily explore increasing financial and institutional domination of our housing and how that worsens tenant, homeowner, and community outcomes. My ultimate goal with this research is understanding what we must do so that every household has a safe and affordable home. In the long-term, I hope to imagine and enact a housing agenda that wrests homes from the grip of Capital and squarely into the hands of all our communities.