SUDBURY – The first snowfall in the Sudbury area is a reminder about the city's homeless situation, and right now, city shelters are at full capacity.
"The shelter here is bursting at the seams and we're full since May, but I think there's also a little bit of strain for family services, Salvation Army… the food banks are at capacity and they're finding as well that they're having to have more food available for hose homeless," said Cindy Bertolo, Salvation Army Cedar Place.
Bertolo says it's heartbreaking and that they try to help those they can't accommodate find space elsewhere.
It's a similar story at the Canadian Mental Health Association Interim Shelter, which is turning away roughly five to 10 people a night.
"It definitely doesn't sit pretty when you're looking outside today and seeing the snow and knowing tonight there's going to be a really big line-up starting at 9 p.m. or even earlier to get one of the 20 beds… so it's really about talking to people at the door and saying 'hey is there somewhere else you can stay tonight'," says Cindy Rose, Canadian Mental Health Association.
Both groups say they're seeing a spike in people arriving, believe they'll be able to find subsidized housing, but they quickly find out there's nothing available.
They add the city is doing the best it can with the resources it has available.
"It's important to note shelters aren't the only thing that we're able to provide for people who are experiencing homelessness… For example, we have several other programs for example, homeless prevention funding which can help someone pay last month's rent," explained Gail Spencer, City of Greater Sudbury.
Spencer says it's been a transitional year for the city but plans are in the works to get the number of emergency beds from 51 to 72.
"We're absolutely trying to get to a system that's responsive to the people that need help with finding housing, but getting to permanent housing is the only solution for homelessness," she says.
Stakeholders say they'd like to see a multi-pronged approach with all levels of government on board.
The city's newest shelter, with 10 additional beds, is expected to open in the coming weeks.