The charity said it had brought more than 1,200 properties back into use by helping owners sell or refurbish them for rental but that more could be done.
It has estimated the value of homes lying empty across the country at more than £4.3bn, based on the average sale price of houses in Scotland of £160,000.
Ahead of its annual conference the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), which is run by Shelter and funded by the Scottish government, said owners of private homes which had been empty for more than six months should make more of their assets and bring much needed housing stock back into use.
It said the scale of the problem was shown by figures which revealed that 35,764 households made homelessness applications in 2014-15.
George Clarke, UK Empty Homes Adviser, said: "With thousands of empty homes across Scotland, it's a disgrace that so many families are going without something as fundamental as a home of their own.
"I totally support the building of new homes, and we should be building tens of thousands of them, but we need to look at other options too.
"It's cheaper and quicker to refurbish empty homes than to build from scratch. It can be kinder to communities and the environment - and it makes sense in these tough economic times."
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said bringing empty homes back into use represented great value for money.
But he said it also provided homes to families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford a property of their own, or would be forced into expensive private rents.
"Empty homes projects across Scotland helped over 1,000 families and individuals realise their dream of a home," he said.
"We look forward to continuing our work alongside the Scottish government and other partners, to bring life to empty properties across Scotland and make them into homes again."