Polk County Opens COVID-19 Shelter for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Polk County and community partners will be using the Youth Inn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds as a shelter for people experiencing homelessness in response to COVID-19. As COVID-19 spreads throughout our community, it is imperative that everyone stays healthy and safe.

“When we are sick, we want to be comforted in a place where you feel safe and can get well. For people experiencing homeless, they do not have a home,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “Everyone needs care and compassion during this time.”

People experiencing homelessness and test positive for COVID-19 will have an opportunity to stay at the shelter to recover. Everyone will be provided with supportive care such as meals, beds, laundry services, supportive medical care and additional resources provided by Polk County. This facility has enough room to practice social distancing and keep our residents healthy. There will be extra security at the fairgrounds. This is to ensure everyone is safe both the individuals who are staying there, the staff who is working and volunteering and keeping our community safe.

There is a fence around the Youth Inn. This is to ensure the public does not come in. This is where individuals who have tested positive with COVID-19 and are trying to get well. The fence is used as a barrier to minimize community spread of COVID-19.

 “The Youth Inn fence may look scary to fairground neighbors and the community. Please rest assured, this is to make sure we are reducing the spread of COVID-19 and respect the dignity of those who are staying at the shelter,” said Tom Hockensmith, Polk County Board of Supervisors. “This is such a difficult time for everyone that we need compassion for everyone including our most vulnerable populations.”

For more information about the COVID-19 in Polk County, please Polk County Health Department’s website at