Allegheny Valley Association of Churches(AVAC)  programs.

Allegheny Valley Association of Churches (AVAC) can help the homeless members as well as low income members of the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County community and the agency serves as a point of entry for sustainable care. The center at AVAC includes many necessities for struggling families including basic needs such as shelter, toiletries, free food and water. Staff also provide general information and referrals.

The main office can give people a place to go to for advice. There is also a place to rest, temporary (limited) storage for personal belongings, access to telephones for employment needs, and more. The staff will try to also direct those facing eviction to emergency shelter which may be provided along with help finding temporary and permanent housing.  For any interested party, please visit Allegheny Valley Association of Churches for a short assessment session. In turn, qualified clients will be directed to the appropriate resources as the next step on their way to recovery.

The Short-Term Rent Assistance Program provides small amounts of financial assistance to Allegheny County households who are homeless or at risk. If the applicant needs help with utilities, such as water or electric bills, then that may be covered in some cases too. If a resident is currently homeless, but has a job, then vouchers may be issued for a motel or a portion of a security deposit can be paid.

The program is administered with the goal of stopping homelessness or utility disconnections. However them main goal is to respond quickly when residents are threatened with becoming homeless.

AVAC Housing Counseling Services are available to assist clients as they work through their difficulties. The programs offered by the faith based charity agency include the following.

  • Transitional Housing as part of the Hospitality Network Extension.
  • Pre-Purchase Counseling is when the client meets one-on-one support in regard to various concerns, including budgeting and credit.
  • Allegheny Valley Association of Churches Homebuyer Education Workshops are a series of workshops on credit, budgeting, shopping for and purchasing a home, applying for a mortgage, managing finances, and maintaining a home.
  • Foreclosure Prevention in Allegheny County - Staff offer one-on-one counseling to prevent home foreclosure
  • Topics for discussion include mediation with a mortgage company, budgeting, government programs such as HARP and referrals to local programs and services.




Dollar Energy from a Pennsylvania based utility company is a neighbors helping neighbor program that depends on donations from customers across Allegheny County in order to help other households who are having difficulty keeping up with their home energy bills because of temporary financial crisis. Staff from Allegheny Valley Association of Churches (AVAC) can provide details on this.

How it works is that customer donations are matched by the utility company. Benefits are in the form of one-time grants for a heating source or for electricity bills, and funds are paid directly to the utility provider. To be eligible for any type of financial aid, a client of the Association must meet income requirements, have a history of good-faith energy bill payments, and also demonstrate that the household is in financial crisis.

When it comes to food or clothing, the AVAC Area Food Cupboard is based at the center in Natrona Heights. New qualified clients are always welcome and all application information is held in the strictest confidence. The program replaces the Mobile Pantry that was held monthly. The cupboard serves residents of the Allegheny County Area.

The goal of the service is to offer support in a flexible environment. Whether someone needs clothing for work or school, or a free box of food or vouchers, support is available. Volunteers and food donations are always needed at the cupboard as well.

The Allegheny Valley Association of Churches case management process includes information on the Center for Workforce Development.  This Pittsburgh location provides employment-related training, information, and support. This is available by referral from AVAC and is part of their mission to help low-income Allegheny County residents gain greater economic stability.

The workforce will help participants with seeking employment; career counseling; job placement referrals; case management; job-readiness skills training; and post-placement support. Highly specialized workshops related to finding, seeking and retaining employment are also offered.




There are also more specialty services offered. This may be Scholarship Funds as well as placement into Christian Education Workshops. All of this is provided by AVAC to help a person gain self-sufficiency and confidence.

Allegheny Valley Association of Churches also has information on job fairs and Career Expos in Pittsburgh and nearby cities such as Natrona Heights. These can be a one-stop experience for those looking for work. They will have face time and can connect with potential employers, educational institutions, training programs, and other informational resources.

While many local churches are part of AVAC, the main center is at 1913 Freeport Road, Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania 15065. The phone number is 724-226-0606.


By Jon McNamara

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