Homelessness has been eliminated in Medicine Hat, Alberta, a city of approximately 60,000 people. The goal was met after six years of implementing a policy that brought shelter to those who spent at least ten days on the street. This policy, initially opposed by Mayor Ted Clugston in 2009, was discovered to be the “most humane way to treat people.”

Medicine Hat2
Mayor Ted Clugston, Image from Calgary Herald

When comparing the cost of housing a homeless person to the cost of them being on the street, the results were very significant. When living on the street, the individuals were susceptible to relapsing into cycles of drug use and were more likely to end up in hospitals and detention centres among other services.

The tax money that these services cost was roughly $100,000 per person per year. When simply providing a home, the cost decreased to $20,000.

After providing homes to those in need, it was observed that there were fewer emergency room visits and a higher number of court appearances. Clugston explains that this increase of court appearances is because the people “end up dealing with their past, atoning for their sins.

Medicine Hat
Image from The City of Medicine Hat

This example from Medicine Hat shows how attainable the goal of eliminating homelessness actually is. If you are interested in learning more facts about homelessness in Canada, you can check out Raising the Roof.


You can listen to an interview with Mayor Ted Clugston here: