SUDBURY -- In a news release Friday signed by Rob Jones, co-chair of Downtown Sudbury, the group called for a solution to the ongoing problem of homeless people living in the YMCA parking lot downtown.

"The present condition at the city parking lot is unacceptable, for the people seeking shelter there, for the YMCA and for the community," the release said. "We are actively working with the city, YMCA and community aid groups to come to a solution on this."

COVID has amplified the homelessness and opioid crisis to "emergency levels," Downtown Sudbury said.

"While we understand there is still space at the off-the-street shelter, this shows that homelessness cannot be solved with a (one) size fits all solution," the release said.

"An emergency level response to this from the city, community and public health is required. The lives of the people affected are just as important as the lives of people affected by COVID. Homelessness is a community issue and needs community support to solve this."

In a CTV News story May 6, one man said they are staying there in part because they want to be close to resources.

"People are trying to stay close to whatever resources that are available," said one homeless man, who didn't want to be identified. "Some are 24-7, and the ones that are tend to stick around the core downtown."

There is also a warming centre inside the YMCA, which means bathrooms and some resources are close by.

"One of the reasons people are coming here cause there is shelter and there is food … water, clean water," said the man.

The parking lot and YMCA building are owned by the City of Greater Sudbury. In the past, bylaw officers have evicted people who set up shelter in Memorial Park because of the no-camping on city property policy. City officials said May 6 they are working to find a solution.

But Downtown Sudbury said something needs to be done, for the good of everyone involved.

"Sudbury’s homeless population are the children of all the areas of our community and we need to work together to solve this crisis," the release said. "The YMCA has gone above and beyond during this crisis, while they are already struggling with the economic pressures of COVID-19. They have been, and continue to be, the first in line to help those in need."

"This population is in an emergency state and need an immediate emergency response," the release said.

Downtown Sudbury said they are not willing to make further comments or to be interviewed on the situation "at this time."