The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness says its goal of housing 20,000 Canadians in the next three years is achievable — and its asking volunteers across the country, including here in Thunder Bay, to help.

The president of the Alliance said volunteers will speak to people living on the street to learn more about their situation and their needs to determine who's at greatest risk.

The next step will be to match those people with housing.

Tim Richter

Tim Richter, president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, says that in communities across the country they are recruiting volunteers to do surveys during what they're calling a registry week. They'll talk to homeless people and ask questions about things like their medical needs, mental health, addictions, personal history and other needs. (Supplied)

"What I'm seeing in communities like Thunder Bay is a real thirst to do something different," Tim Richter said.

"[There's] a real thirst for action ... to get started.  And that's what this campaign is doing. It's really all about action."

Richter said the group is trying to prioritize and make the most of existing resources. At the same time they are also advocating and building support for federal investment in housing the homeless.

"There isn't enough to finish the job, but there's more than enough to get started," he said.

He said the group is trying to create a sense of urgency around the issue.

"Homelessness is a solvable problem, and we know what it takes to solve it. So really it's about ... getting people moving on a solution, and not waiting around for the perfect alignment of the stars to get started," Richter continued.

"It's all about getting people housed.  And it's about building a movement of Canadians that want to see something change."

Thunder Bay volunteers will be led by the non-profit group Shelter House.

This campaign is inspired by an American one that set out to house 100, 000 people in 4 years — and exceeded its goal.