The Washington Post has declared in a headline: "McAuliffe announces milestone in ending veteran homelessness."
Yes, term-limited governor and Democratic party mega-fundraiser Terry McAuliffe may love the publicity, but the claim begs credulity.
Here's what the Post reports:
The federal homelessness designation means Virginia has no homeless veterans with the exception of those who have been offered housing but do not want it. The state must find a home for a veteran within 90 days and have more homes available than the number of veterans who have been identified as having no place to live.
Claiming that homelessness has been "ended" for veterans in Virginia is to make a claim that is truly unknowable, and virtually certain to be incorrect. While Virginia, like other East Coast states, is tough on enforcement of residency issues in terms of driver's licenses and license plates, enforcement is an ongoing struggle given the transient nature of those in the region.
Tea Party favorite Rep. Dave Brat, who bested Eric Cantor in a primary battle, complimented McAuliffe:
“To move the needle to zero — effective homelessness — it’s a great day.”
Brat is wrong, and as a former economics professor, he should know better. The idea that the government can know, with absolute certainty, that every veteran living in Virginia, documented or not, has housing, or has been offered housing, is a farce. It's a mere pretense of knowledge.
It is similar to the Keynesian definition of "full employment," which is attained when, "virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed." That figure generally varies between 3.5 and 5 percent. Even then, "full employment" is at best, a guess.
Why not just tout progress instead of false absolutes?
The fact is, we'll always have people who don't want work, just as we'll have folks who don't want a government-provided solution to their problem of a lack of housing. Some veterans who refuse help may be mentally ill, and forcibly institutionilaizing them may not likely be a plan with a good chance of success. Yet, they're still homeless.
This is not to say that progress hasn't been made, or that McAuliffe doesn't deserve credit for making strides: He does! But to write, and defend that the claim that problem has been "ended," suggesting that anyone who says otherwise is saying we should either give up or try less hard, are but cruel cynics.
As rare as "full employment" may be in today's economy, it's doubtful that any state acheiving it would have a governor touting that unemployment, as a social condition, had "ended."
We can, and should, do more for our veterans. Claiming we've "ended" a problem we clearly haven't is a really bad start.