The Out of the Cold shelter is opening earlier than expected this year, but advocates say even those 15 beds won’t come close to meeting the need in Saint John.

The shelter doesn't usually open until January, but the group has managed to find enough volunteers to start later this week.

Even though it's only two weeks early, shelter director Jillian Driscoll said opening the space is going to make a huge difference for some of the city's homeless men.

"At least the men have somewhere to go over the Christmas season," said Driscoll.

"There's not a whole lot of places available for them to sleep anymore and so this is going to make quite a difference that they will have places that they can get warm, and fed, and [be] safe."

With the Salvation Army shelter full, the Out of the Cold shelter is the only other place homeless men can find a warm place to sleep in the southern city.

Randy Hatfield, executive director of the Human Development Council, said numbers are difficult to track, but he estimates more than 300 men used shelters over the past year.

He said shelters help, but he wants to see other options as well.

"In Saint John we're faced with a substandard housing stock, we're faced with a lack of affordable housing options, a shelter system that's at capacity. So, we have a serious issue of housing in this community," he said.

Hatfield said all three levels of government need to commit resources before the situation will improve.