In Australia, 1 in 200 people will sleep on the streets on any given night.
Largely driven by domestic violence and financial issues, the impact on mental health is also cause for concern.
In this HuffPost Original series Now What host Ryan Duffy looks at a simple idea taking place in the U.S that is seeing phenomenal success in not only housing the homeless, but keeping them there.
It boils down to this: House people first. Ask questions later.
Sam Tsemberis, founder and CEO of Pathways to Housing, has presented this new humane approach in response to the current application process that requires those in need to first prove their sobriety before they are given a safe place to live.
Something Tsemberis said is ridiculous as you would never expect that from an average applicant searching for an apartment.
"We can actually put them into housing and get them into treatment much more effectively if we give them housing first and the wrap around services, that is the cure for this group of people," he said.
In the first year Tsemberis has seen an 84 percent success rate in keeping those in need off the streets.
Primarily, this is because it empowers people take control of their own lives as Dr Richard Bebout, a mental health advocate, said.
"It's hugely empowering for people to have choices and to feel a sense of pride an ownership. Nothing builds self-esteem like having a home."
It's also cheaper for society to avoid the homeless going in and out of incarceration and hospitals.
But it relies on political will to invest in housing the homeless as opposed to funding the collateral damage.
Now What with Ryan Duffy is a Huffington Post Original documentary series that's seeking some of the most creative solutions to the world's biggest problems.