LONDON, ONT. -- The Housing First Youth Shelter on Clarke Road started accepting its first clients Monday.

Designed to get young people back on their feet, the 30-bed facility is operated by Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.).

“It must be very, very scary to be 16, 17, 18 years old. They should still be children not dealing with homelessness and not dealing with how they're going to provide food for themselves,” said Steve Cordes, the executive director at Y.O.U.

Cordes says this new facility is different from other shelters because it also accommodates young people who have pets as companions.

“That pet is that trusted being that loves them unconditionally, that has not traumatized them, has not harmed them and has taken care of them and they take care of their pet,” said Cordes.

Some dog owners like Anna Giannakopoulos like the shelter’s concept.

“Animals really connect you to your true self in a sense and so for a kid to kind of look past all the hardships around them and all the neglect and everything that's kind of hurt them so much, I think it's a great idea,” said Giannakopoulos.

Cordes says the new shelter is all part of the Y.O.U. mandate.

“Between the affordable housing programs we do, the youth training programs, the employment programs, helping people reconnect with school, we are helping people build successful futures.”