Albany County public and government assistance.

The Albany County Department of Social Services can help the low income and the working poor apply for public assistance programs. There are numerous benefits available from both the state of New York as well as the federal government, and social workers from DSS can help clients navigate through the application process. Examples of the services include cash grants from TANF, vouchers to pay for child care, low income and rent subsidized housing, and of course SNAP food stamps.

Thousands of families receive relief for their budgets from food stamps, or SNAP. All requests for this are processed locally, but it does rely on public funds to keep it operating. An EBT card will be issued to a client, and they can use it to help pay for their groceries, milk, baby formula, and more.

HEAP -  Home Energy Assistance Program can help pay for winter gas and heating bills. Funds may also pay for furnace repairs for qualified homeowners in Albany County. It is often combined with other benefits by Albany County DSS. For example, residents that receive Food Stamps will often be signed up for HEAP at the same time, and other programs can also often be combined with it.

When facing a shut off of power or when out of fuel, then the emergency HEAP program is an option that can streamline the application process. Assistance for utilities can be paid out in short order from this service.

There are other energy programs as well in the county of Albany and Buffalo as well. They include weatherization for saving money on bills, and there is also the state of New York Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement service.

Together, these provide for tune ups, heating equipment repair or maybe even the replacement of a furnace. The goal is to improve the efficiency of the home and help people save money on their heating or utility bills.

Medicaid can help the poor and very low income receive low cost or maybe free medical and dental care. It is the main federal government funded public health care program in both New York State and other parts of the country. Patients can receive help in paying for their medical bills and accessing the care they need, and their children can also benefit from CHIP or other related health care solutions.




Grants to pay everyday bills are part of what Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, can be used for. Public aid can help pay for basic needs ranging from rent and housing to clothing or food. Social workers from Department of Social Services in Albany County will also assist TANF eligible client with job training as well, as it is a short term benefit.

TANF is combined with Work First that is run by the Department's Employment Unit, and it will help individuals both find a job and keep it. The state emphasizes self-sufficiency, and earning a decent paycheck is the best way for families to pay the bills on their own in the future.

The county of Albany DSS will partner with the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance on a solution known as New York Safety Net. This may be offered for working poor and people who are not eligible for other public or financial assistance programs.

The Safety Net can help with paying bills and household expenses for the disabled, single adults, elderly with no relatives, and childless couples, among others. It is often combined with other longer term solutions as well, such as Workfirst.

Counties across New York, including Albany, also offer the Indigent Burial solution. This is a Funeral Assistance program, and it is offered to the very low income, people living in poverty and indigent. Public assistance is used to pay for creation or burials of a family member.

For those struggling with housing costs and keeping up with the rent, DSS has information on many government programs, most of which are federal funded. Some of the options available in the county include ESG (Emergency Solutions Grants), Single Room Occupancy Services, and more. The county will also provide referrals to local shelters or public housing programs, even section 8 vouchers.




Child care vouchers are available for parents in job training or that are employed. They can help pay for costs while the child is under the age of 13, providing income and other requirements are met. Parents may also participate in services such as GED preparation, Subsidized/unsubsidized employment, and more.

For more information or to receive help, intake and an application will be needed. The main office of the agency is at 162 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12210, or call (518) 447-7300.


By Jon McNamara

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