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Yesterday, a staff member from the internship site took a group of us to participate in one of the most interesting and moving events we have done thus far. We walked just a few block from our site in the Tenderloin neighborhood to City Hall to rally in support of the movement toward budget justice as they called it, for the mayor and the board of supervisors were in the midst of allocating money for the city’s needs in the upcoming fiscal year. The front steps of city hall were completely overtaken by local non-profits, other service groups, and residents who all sought out justice for the appropriation of funds. They were there because such a small percentage of money in the mayor’s budget had gone to address the problems that were so prominent in this rich city, such as rampant homelessness, limited resources and spaces for marginalized groups, and complications with free city college for local residents. I knew these problems existed, and I’ve been always amazed at the work that the staff do, but it was hard to realize how severe these problems were until numbers were finally put on the picture. The budget overall was appropriating eleven billion dollars, yet only three percent was going toward programs that addressed homelessness.

That honestly blew my mind at the rally, and I could finally understand their frustrations. They already do so much with what they have, but this increase in funding could significantly augment the quality and number of services that are provided to all peoples who experience homelessness in this city where there is even competition for space on the streets. How could so little go toward helping human beings off the street, yet so much toward increasing funds for weaponized gear for the police and for workers who clean up the streets? Those measures only aggravate the circumstances and honestly wouldn’t need to be taken to that extent if there was more local support for organizations that help people get educated and into stable housing. It just didn’t add up to me, and it made me feel angry and disgusted with the people that govern us because there is absolutely no way that one could simply get accustomed to seeing people shooting up and sleeping on the streets daily. It should make us uncomfortable because it isn’t right for people to be under such circumstances, especially when money is so visible in neighborhoods adjacent to the Tenderloin. By leaning into discomfort we can fully acknowledge our biases and our privilege and how we may use that as a avenue to help others voice their concerns, which is why I felt so moved by everyone who attended or spoke at the rally and participated in their local government. I could really feel passion in their voices, and I hope to see changes made to the system that has created some of these problems. I feel privileged to work alongside these wonderful people, and I am more motivated to make the most of all my interactions with my peers and the youth I work with.