Fewer people than predicted are taking advantage of an overnight shelter in Sudbury for those who are intoxicated.

The new Out of the Cold program offered by the Salvation Army is free. It was put in place just under two weeks ago to serve those who have nowhere else to turn.

Major Mike Hennessey said the city told him to expect 15-20 people a night, but for the first 10 days, there have been eight people — at most — each night.

Mike Hennessey

The Salvation Army's Major Mike Hennessey said the city of Sudbury told him to prepare for 15-20 people a night for a new out-of-the-cold pilot program. But he says, in the first 10 days, the number of people sleeping overnight ranged from one to eight on any given night. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

“We've had a number of people who pop in or drop by,” he said. “There are others out there [who] maybe yet don't understand or don't appreciate that they can come in.”

A member of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty said the group is encouraging people to go there.

But Anna Harbulik said some of the homeless people say some have been turned away from the other permanent shelter because they didn't have ID, money or were intoxicated. The permanent shelter does not allow people to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Harbulik said their previous experiences may affect their decision to give the new shelter program a try.

“It may prevent some homeless people from using it and, in our conversations with homeless people in Sudbury, this is the opinion of some of them,” she said.

Harbulik said S-CAP would prefer that next year the city run the program out of the old police station downtown.

“Given that this is a pilot project, next year the city could open up a similar shelter in city-owned space like the old police station, which has the added bonus of being wheelchair accessible,” she said. “The current location isn't.”

The Salvation Army, located in Sudbury’s downtown, hosts the Out of the Cold program from 8:30 p.m. until 7 a.m until the end of March.