On this Veterans Day, some promising news on a long-standing problem: Minnesota is whittling down its number of homeless veterans.

Sheltering homeless vets was an early focus of Gov. Tim Walz’s administration, and while the pandemic has justifiably pushed that and other issues out of the spotlight, work has progressed nevertheless. This week the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs reported that 13 central Minnesota counties, including the St. Cloud area, have effectively ended homelessness for veterans.

“Effectively” is a key word in that concept. The state agency on Tuesday tallied 279 homeless veterans in Minnesota, 23 of them in the central Minnesota region. That number changes daily, with about 45 Minnesota veterans identified in a typical month as needing a home. What it means, according to Tim Poland, coordinator of the Central Minnesota Continuum of Care, is that the region has the system and the means to make periods of homelessness brief, rare and nonrecurring.

Minnesota has 10 continuum of care networks. Seven of those 10, including the one containing the Mankato region, are said to have effectively ended veteran homelessness. The three laggards are Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties — the counties of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, which would figure to have the largest portion of the problem.

Walz has set a goal of making Minnesota the fourth state to effectively end veteran homelessness, joining Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut. It is a worthy objective.

Homelessness and affordable housing are, as readers of coverage on the topic know, complex and challenging issues. The veteran-specific aspect is just part of the broader picture. Solving part of the puzzle is valuable, and the progress worth celebrating.

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