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Iowa Homeless Youth Centers

IHYC assists over 600 transition-aged youth (16-24 years of age) and their families every year on the path to escape the cycle of poverty.

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Join the fight to end youth homelessness.

Join us on October 29th to Sleep out under the stars for one night at Drake Stadium. Raise funds and awareness for homeless youth in our community. sign up today at ReggiesSleepout.org.

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Youth Opportunity Center
612 Locust Street
Lighthouse Transitional Living Center
901 East Douglas Avenue
Rooftop Gardens
Under Development - 2705 E. Euclid Avenue

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Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC) works to eliminate homelessness among children, youth, and young families in Central Iowa. We believe, with support and assistance, homeless youth can attain self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.

Through case management and advocacy, our dedicated staff works with youth (16.5-24) and young families to become self-sufficient, and plan for a healthy and successful future.

IHYC Youth Opportunity Center

612 Locust, Des Moines

Dedicated to exclusively serving the needs of at-risk and homeless youth (age 16.5-24), the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) provides a safe place for young people to connect with services. Our staff is committed to meeting youth where they are in life, and assisting them in taking the first steps to self-sufficiency and a successful future.

Located in downtown Des Moines, IHYC’s Youth Opportunity Center provides a variety of services, including:


A hub of crisis counseling, service referrals and emergency need fulfillment, IHYC youth advocates provide outreach to youth living without safe, stable housing.

Drop-In Center Services

Showers and laundry facilities, a cell phone charging station, donation center access, service referrals and staff support are available for youth needing help.

Daily Meals

Provides free, nutritious meals at lunch (12-1 p.m.) and dinner (5-6 p.m.) to all at-risk and homeless youth ages 16-22


For youth (age 18-24) who have an urgent need for housing, the Youth Opportunity Center offers nine low-barrier, single bed units. Youth may stay for up to 30 days while working with IHYC youth advocates to meet immediate needs and plan their next step towards self-sufficiency.


Our Mental Health Counselor provides mental health support, available to youth IHYC programs.

Supportive Housing

Our Supportive Housing programs offers youth safe housing and a chance for so much more. A case manager works with each youth to set and achieve goals related to education, employment, safe housing, life skills and positive community engagement. Support, information and referrals are provided 24 hours a day.


Up to 10 homeless young families (age 16-25) and their children can live at the Lighthouse for up to two years. While in the program, these youth receive not only a safe living environment, but also assistance in life and parenting skill building.

Lighthouse Transitional Living staff work one-on-one with youth to create and accomplish an individualized plan for self-sufficiency. In addition, participants are supported in learning about parenting, child development, nutrition, wellness and childcare. While at the Lighthouse, young parents are encouraged to complete or further their education, maintain regular employment and place a portion of their salary in a savings account to use after leaving the program.


Twelve youth (age 18-22) can move into their own stable housing quicker with IHYC’s Rapid Rehousing program. Youth are able to live in their own apartment, while still receiving support from Rapid Rehousing program staff. While in the program, youth will receive rent assistance on a sliding scale, as they work to obtain stable employment at a livable wage and achieve overall self-sufficiency.

For information about supportive housing programs through other YSS locations, visit our Transitional Services page.

IHYC Rooftop Gardens

Iowa Homeless Youth Centers’ Rooftop Gardens program will serve transition-age youth who are at-risk or currently experiencing homelessness, providing employment opportunities, access to healthy locally grown foods and nutrition education.

Goals of the program are:

  • Break the cycle of poverty by providing guided work experience and a living stipend
  • Improve access to healthy food and meet the nutritional needs for low-income and homeless youth
  • Develop a self-sufficient entrepreneurial project that creates a partnership with our nonprofit organization, retailers and consumers in the community

Currently under development. The program will include a combination of hydroponic farms (inside of a year-round functioning greenhouse), raised beds and vertical growing techniques.

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A program coordinator will supervise 12 youth apprentices annually, who will operate the growing, harvesting and packaging of the produce. The finished product will be distributed to local grocery stores, markets and other retailers to sell to consumers. After construction and initial operating expenses, the IHYC Rooftop Gardens will be a self-sufficient program.

You can help youth grow by investing in IHYC Rooftop Gardens. Visit yss.org/rooftopgardens to learn more.

Sixth Avenue Flats – Affordable housing for former foster youth

We celebrated the grand opening of Sixth Avenue Flats, an affordable housing project in Des Moines. 🎉 A portion of the apartments will be reserved for YSS youth who have aged out of foster care and are experiencing homelessness. They will receive on-site support from YSS and educational services through DMAAC.

Interested in renting? View the Rental Agreement.

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