How the Canadian city of Medicine Hat is solving homelessness

(Getty file)
(Getty file)

Homelessness is a daunting problem to solve, but one Canadian city is doing it by - get this - giving every homeless person somewhere to live.

It sounds ridiculously obvious, but Medicine Hat's Housing First scheme is simple: put every person into a stable home within 10 days of finding out they're homeless.

The scheme is a combination of:

Only 60,000 people live in Medicine Hat, but it faces the same problems causing homelessness in New Zealand, like rising property and rental prices.

The thinking is that having a decent place to live is the first step in tackling other problems like unemployment, addiction and crime.

Take a look at how it's worked out.

Since 2009:

Police interactions and court appearances have increased - but the city's mayor says that's because more people are taking responsibility for their pasts.

Medicine Hat has invested $13.5 million in the scheme since 2014, but says it's worth it because the cost of each person on the public system is 80 percent less than if they were homeless.

The key is housing supply. A similar scheme in Salt Lake City, Utah, hasn't worked as well because there simply aren't enough beds to meet demand.

But Medicine Hat is proof that a targeted policy can legitimately make a difference.