06/16/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 06/17/2015 10:59 EDT

Canadian Alliance To End Homelessness Aims To House 20,000 By 2018

As many as 30,000 Canadians spend every night without a place to call home.

As many as 30,000 Canadians spend every night without a place to call home.

The Canadian Alliance To End Homelessness (CAEH) thinks something can be done about that.

CAEH launched the "20,000 Homes Campaign" in Toronto on Tuesday. It aims to put roofs over the heads of 20,000 vulnerable people by 2018.

"We're trying to break the inertia of homeless system in Canada, challenge it with a bunch of action," CAEH president Tim Richter told CTV News.

The initiative was inspired by the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which succeeded in finding places to live for 105,580 people in the United States over four years.

CAEH aims to house people by finding "permanent, safe, appropriate and affordable housing with the support necessary to sustain it," said the campaign's website.

It is focusing squarely on people considered the "most vulnerable"; that is, individuals with "complex needs and at risk of death from homelessness," or those who are chronically without a place to live, said a news release.

As part of the campaign, volunteers will meet with homeless people, learn their names and needs through a survey, then share the information with staff who will prioritize individuals based on housing urgency.

CAEH has recruited 21 communities to its cause, including Halifax, N.S., Hamilton, Ont., Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Kamloops, B.C. Volunteers will share data around homeless participants with these communities in an effort to house them.

In working to find homes for 20,000 people, CAEH is carrying out a "Housing First" approach that has already been adopted in a number of communities throughout Alberta.

The strategy tackles homelessness by swiftly moving people into independent housing and providing services and support as they require it, according to The Homeless Hub.

The City of Medicine Hat has adopted the "Housing First" approach, and it could end homelessness within its boundaries by the end of this year.

The strategy has been praised by fiscally-conservative Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston because, he said, it makes financial sense.

Now it's time to see how it works on a national scale.

With 1,110 days to go, the 20,000 Homes Campaign has housed 50 people.

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