The reality is that every day, vast amounts of information are collected about the homeless among us. Police officers, paramedic firefighters, business district ambassadors and emergency room staff constantly interact with people experiencing homelessness. So do bus drivers, park workers and librarians. Outreach teams are deployed across the county to check on people in encampments, parks, city streets and alleys. Churches, public social services and nonprofits provide a myriad of services to homeless people. Citizens call 911 or use LA HOP to report concerns.
All this should be tracked, cross-referenced and mapped. There’s no excuse for waiting until 2022 for a new count. There’s no technological reason why we can’t estimate the number of people on the streets every month or even every day. It won’t be exact, but the manual count is also far from exact. In fact, real time data would be far more accurate — and far more useful.