Gov. Newsom’s promised database to track homeless people in CA won’t be easy to compile

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“Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State address last week that California “will establish a unified homelessness data system to capture accurate, local information.”

He made it sound so simple and matter-of-fact. But for those homeless advocates who have long struggled to compile such data, Newsom was evoking a quest like that for the Holy Grail — a prize that is difficult to reach, but which everyone wants.

“That’s awesome,” said Miguel Santana when asked to consider whether a statewide database should exist. But the former Los Angeles administrative officer who spent years involved in the city’s homelessness planning wasn’t sure that it could.

The governor’s plan will only work, he said, if “every jurisdiction, every county, every city, is asked to aggregate data across the board that’s similar” — and that would be a project of immense complexity.

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