SUDBURY -- A shortage of shelter beds in Sudbury means many homeless people are sleeping outside. Now efforts get underway to change that.

A nighttime warming centre is opening at the YMCA. Although there are no beds, it's a place to get out of the cold.

It's being funded by the city and runs from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week.

"When folks arrive they will be screened -- COVID screening," said Helen Francis, CEO of YMCA of Northeastern Ontario. "They will be asked to put their belongings that they can bring into the facility in Rubbermaid containers and stored away securely for them."

There will be hot drinks and nutritious snacks offered.

"We will be offering them a place to warm up, to sit and relax safely, maybe have a nap, have a shower, and access warm drinks, a snack and perhaps some new or fresh clothing," said Kendra MacIsaac, the general manager of health and fitness at the YMCA.

Tables and gravity chairs have been spaced to accommodate physical distancing.

Some YMCA staff members who were laid off because of the pandemic have been called back and four employees will staff the shelter each night.

"We have made sure that we obviously had our first aid in place and then recently the staff, just as of yesterday, took crisis intervention and de-escalation training and then we will continue to find additional supports," said Francis.

The city is supplying a security guard on site each night.

The Y said its members and the community have been generous coming forward with donations, but more clothing and outerwear are needed.

"We are probably still in need of some men's clothing that is in excellent shape," said MacIsaac. "As well as I don't think we could have too many pairs of underwear and socks and perhaps some gently used winter boots."

Right now the plan is keep the overnight warming centre open until April 1, but officials said that will be evaluated based on the need and the weather.