Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC), a YSS organization, offers drop-in services in downtown Des Moines for youth experiencing homelessness. Our staff is committed to meeting youth where they are in life and assisting them in taking the first steps toward self-sufficiency.

counselor ames

IHYC’s Youth Opportunity Center
612 Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa

Monday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.
P: 515-883-2379

Our Youth Opportunity Center provides a variety of services, including:

  • Daily meals
  • Clothing and hygiene items
  • Showers and laundry facilities
  • Referrals to mental health therapy, job assistance, supportive housing programs, and more

About Us

Drop-In Services

We offer showers and laundry facilities, a cell phone charging station, clothing, hygiene items, a food pantry, bike repair, job assistance and resume reviews, free hair cuts, and more.

Daily Meals

During the week, we provide free, nutritious, warm meals at lunch (12-1 p.m.) and dinner (5-6 p.m.) to all at-risk and homeless youth ages 18-24.

Art Studio

Art helps improve self-esteem, reduce feelings of anxiety and isolation, and creatively express strong emotions. We offer a fully-stocked art studio to youth who want to paint, draw, and create projects.

Computer Lab

We have a computer lab to help you apply to jobs, check your email, search for permanent housing, and more.

Street Outreach

Our youth advocates visit youth on the streets and in camps to offer crisis counseling, service referrals, and emergency need fulfillment.

Mental Health Counseling

Our licensed mental health therapists provide support to help youth overcome their obstacles and develop healthy coping skills.

Emergency Beds

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.

Aspen's Story

As winter approached, Aspen was sleeping in his friend’s vehicle, having recently lost his home, his car, and his job. One day, Aspen visited IHYC's Youth Opportunity Center and was given an emergency bed.

Aspen accessed IHYC's homeless youth services and then connected with YSS’s Rapid Re-housing Program, allowing him to move into his own apartment with rental assistance. "I had years of pent-up tension I didn’t know I was holding," Aspen said. "You don’t realize how much stress you are under until you are not under stress anymore."

He continued to meet with YSS staff as he found employment as a mechanic and later enrolled in driving school to become a truck driver. Today, Aspen is happy, successful—and the proud dad of a baby girl.

mental health services

Intake Process for Emergency Beds

Step 1: To participate in IHYC's emergency bed program, youth must first meet with Primary Health Care (PHC) staff. IHYC can offer transportation or bus fare if scheduling and staff availability allows.

The PHC Homeless Support Department is located at 1200 University Avenue in Des Moines. The office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed noon-1 p.m. each day for lunch). You may also call the office at (515) 248-1500.

Step 2: PHC will maintain an updated waitlist of youth needing a bed. PHC will prioritize the waitlist based on housing status and vulnerability index using the Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT).

In addition, PHC can put an individual on any housing program waitlist that the person is eligible for and agrees to.

Step 3: When a bed is available, PHC will reach out to the next person on the waitlist and give them two hours to respond. If the participant does not respond, PHC will move to the next person on the list. If a person on the waitlist does not respond after three attempts to reach them, they will be taken off the waitlist until they reconnect and make contact again with PHC.

Youth may stay in the IHYC emergency bed program for up to 60 days. If a participant leaves the program and then needs another bed, they will be directed back to PHC to get back on the waitlist.

Donate essentials to the Youth Opportunity Center

IHYC is currently unable to accept used clothing donations. We are still in need of personal care items, undergarments, and specific clothing. Please see the document that shows our current needs. Reach out to the organizations below to see if they could benefit from your donations.

+ Bidwell Riverside: 1203 Hartford Ave, Des Moines, IA 50315

+ St. Vincent de Paul: 1426 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314

+ Young Women's Resource Center: 818 5th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309

+ Ellipsis (Shelter for individuals under 18): 918 SE 11th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

You can drop off donations at 612 Locust Street in Des Moines from Monday to Friday, noon-6 p.m. or by appointment (call 515-883-2379 or email ihyc@yss.org).

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