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Berks County Pennsylvania assistance programs.

Find a sampling of agencies, and learn how to apply for financial help, in Berks County. The primary charities, churches, and government organizations (including DHS) are listed below. Find free food and emergency rent or security deposit assistance, homeless shelters in Reading, and one time energy bill help. There is also assistance in the form of free community clinics, gasoline vouchers, and employment services for those seeking new job skills. Children can also get free school supplies during the summer or winter Christmas toys.

A major focus of the Berks County agencies is on (1) homeless and (2) hunger prevention. To this end, there are free food pantries and lunch programs. Or low income families can get help finding low income housing units or eviction or foreclosure help from attorneys. Stopping hunger and evictions as well as rehousing the homeless is also a focus.

Free financial help, food, clothes and case management in Berk County

Several charities and non-profit organization in Berks County have partnered together to create assistance programs. They provide resources to struggling families and find ways to support the local community. The organizations listed below also help people increase their household incomes, get short term help with bills, refer them to government programs, and to help people save more money and boost their personal assets.

Berks Encore. This organization is located at 40 N. 9th Street, Reading, PA (610) 374-3195. Berks Encore will provide people in need of help with referral services and information, food assistance, recreational programs, education and advocacy to help older adults achieve a better quality of life. Assistance program services offered include Meals on Wheels, counseling on prescription drug and health insurance plans, assistance with income tax preparation, and assistance with applying for both Pennsylvania and federal government benefits.

Boyertown Area Multi-Service Inc. This agency encourages the coordination of social services and programs for people of all ages in the greater Boyertown area. They support a limited area, but Boyertown Area Multi-Service, Inc offers five different core programs. They include a free Emergency Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, and there is guidance from The Center at Spring Street.

 

 

 

There is also Energy Bill Case Management and Assistance with heating and utility bills. Or get Volunteer Transportation to Medical Appointments. They are located at 200 West Spring Street, Boyertown, PA 19512 (610) 367-6957. Read more on Boyertown Area Multi-Service programs.

Catholic Charities provides emergency assistance. Services include parish outreach and other community support services such as case management, housing and rent assistance, emergency food aid and counseling services, debt assistance, and more to help individuals and families attain self-sufficiency. Learn more on rent assistance programs.

Those are just a few of the resources offered. The non-profit Catholic Charities in Berks County also has services tailored for immigrants and seniors, including job training and information on medical care. While Catholic Charities is located in The Madison Building, 400 Washington Street Suite 100, Reading, PA 19601 (phone (610) 376-7144) they have other locations in the region. Continue with Lehigh and Reading area Catholic Charities.

Salvation Army: Reading and Berks County Corps, which is headquartered at 301 South 5th Street, Reading, PA 19602, and phone number is (610) 373-5208, is an international organization that is committed to helping people in need of crisis intervention. In Reading, the Salvation Army organization provides assistance in paying everyday bills, help for meeting basic needs through energy bill or rent assistance, prescription medication, free food and clothing distribution.

Call (610) 373-5208 for information on case management, social services, and other aid. Services offered can include holiday meals, a food pantry, shelter and housing, and information on state government programs such as LIHEAP. Utility assistance may be administered too.

The Salvation Army also offers disaster services. There are also volunteers and free item giveaways, such as free Christmas gifts from Angel Tree, back to school supply programs as well as Thanksgiving meals. Find details on Salvation Army programs in Berks County.

 

 

 

 

In addition, another service the Salvation Army offers is the Supportive Housing Program. It will help disabled and homeless families find permanent solutions to their homelessness. Click here to find additional ways to get medical or hospital bill help.

Food assistance programs - Berks County families, regardless of income, background, or religion, can stop by a food bank or pantry. There are soup kitchens and pantries in the region for free food, groceries, meals, and more. Most of the centers can provide other services such as clothing, diapers, holiday gifts for children, and other social services.

The centers are a great place to turn to for some short term assistance. Many local families need to make the difficult decision every month of what bills and expenses to pay for. If you pick up some free food or groceries from one of these Reading area food banks, that allows families to free up money for other bills such as rent, medications, and energy expenses. Find a listing of free food pantries in Berks County Pennsylvania.

Berks Community Action Program, Inc. (BCAP), located at 518 Washington Street, Reading, PA 19603 and can be reached at (610) 376-6571. The regional non-profit is another option. BCAP provides a comprehensive array of services designed to meet the needs of the low and moderate income population across Berks County.

Assistance program services provided to people in need of help include free budget counseling, credit card debt assistance, weatherization and housing or rent assistance. There is also youth mentoring, family development, and case management. A major focus of BCAP is on improving overall money management, including credit access. More on debt help.

Many other resources are available at BCAP. One resource can help families facing homelessness or those looking for help to pay a security deposit, and cash assistance or a loan may be issued to those qualified applicants. They may even be able to help with a rent payment or direct homeowners to government mortgage assistance. Read more on Berks County BCAP programs.

Pennsylvania Family Centers are another place to turn to. Call them at (610) 376-6571. These centers offer the following.

  • Access health care information as well as assistance programs regarding health care services and health insurance
  • Job Training and Placement. There are a number of state as well as federal resources, and learn more on free job training programs for new skills.
  • Access training, education, employment, and job information
  • Receive assistance and information on other community resources and government programs, such as well-baby care, immunizations and early intervention services
  • Child Care Assistance Programs
  • Language Skills

 

 

 

 

Non-profit agencies for housing assistance - Renters who are faced with a crisis or imminent eviction have options. Several non-profits, government programs, and churches operate in Berks County. While funding is limited and not everyone will be able to qualify for help, click here for information on the various rental and housing programs in Berks County.

In addition to above, the following non-profits and agencies may be able to provide individuals with emergency rental assistance if someone is faced with an eviction. Other services include section 8 housing vouchers.

  • Berks Community Action Program (610) 375-7866
  • Catholic Charities (610) 376-7144

Short term and low income housing - Whether a resident is homeless, or needs a place to stay so they can transition into a more permanent solution, there is housing available. Resources in Berks County range from overnight homeless shelters to mid to long term transitional apartments, and there are units for women, children, men and single parents as well. More on Berks County low income housing.

Berks Coalition to End Homelessness can be reached at (610) 372-7222. Receive information on rent assistance, eviction prevention, and housing.

Pathstone – Offers a number of programs to the low income. Among them include assistance for late utility payments when facing a shut off, job finding and training, housing, and case management. The non-profit also offers emergency assistance for the needs of migrant and seasonal farm workers. Programs are also available for rural disadvantaged people who may not be eligible for other emergency financial aid or government programs.

Available services from Pathstone include nutritional assistance, emergency shelter, mortgage help, first month and back rental assistance, and one time utility bill assistance. 121 South Second Street, Reading, Pennsylvania 19602, call 610-376-2850

Berks County Community Emergency Funds – May have small amounts of financial assistance for basic needs such as rent, medical, utilities, or food. 336 South Eighteenth Street, Reading, PA 19602, telephone number 610-372-7222

Community Support Program is another service, and can be reached at 610-376-7144. Provides case management services and more to assist individuals with goal setting and self-sufficiency. Referrals are made to the appropriate government and financial resources. Can provide prescription assistance, housing and utility funds, budgeting, credit repair, and job search counseling.

Greater Berks Food Bank – Free food, meals, groceries, and perishable items are offered in the community. Dial (610) 926-5802

 

 

 

 

Jewish Family Service can be reached at (610) 921-0624. They are a United Way Supported Services, and can help families and individuals with a number of basic needs, regardless of religion.

Mid Penn Legal Services – May provide free legal aid, advice, or representation. There are free attorneys for a wide variety of civil needs. Dial (610) 376-8656, or read more on free legal aid.

Berks Women in Crisis – Can provide advice and support to victims of domestic violence, including information on housing and public assistance. Also get information on legal resources. Call (610) 373-1206

Central Park Food Ministry - Pantry is grocery distribution site where the client selects their food and grocery items from those items that are currently available in the pantry. A soup kitchen also provides a hot, noon lunchtime meal. 138 South Sixth Street, Reading, Pennsylvania  19602, phone 610-375-2662

West Berks Mission District – Is a day camp for inner city children, and also runs a food pantry for public distribution. Also works closely with local social service agencies. 1015 Windsor Street, Reading, Pennsylvania 19604, call 610-375-8303

Women, Infant's, & Children's Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) of Reading is a nutrition program that helps young children, pregnant women, and new mothers stay healthy and eat well. The government program provides free food and nutrition advice. 501 Washington Street, Reading, Pennsylvania 19601. Call 610-373-5545, or find more Pennsylvania public assistance.

Easy Does It – Provides case management, transitional housing, job training opportunities and employment skills. 1300 Hilltop Road, Leesport, Pennsylvania 19533, dial 610-373-2463

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks, Inc. - Offers low cost or free foreclosure prevention assistance. They are a HUD certified agency for the greater Berks County PA region. Housing counselors also help facilitate affordable housing initiatives that will expand homeownership opportunities for all people of Berks County, with a focus on low-moderate income families. Learn about mortgage and loan programs. The agency will also contribute to community revitalization to repairing or fixing up old homes. 213 N. 5th Street, Suite 1030, Reading, Pennsylvania 19601, telephone (610) 372-8433

Government aid from Berks County Department of Health and Human Service is offered for low income families, the disabled, and residents who live in or near poverty levels. There is Public Assistance, which includes a number of federal grant programs and state government benefits.

The county DHS office can help very low income families, and those faced with challenges such as the disabled. There is assistance ranging from SNAP food stamps to cash assistance from TANF. There is also eviction prevention in Berks County, telephone assistance from Lifeline, and low income housing, among other social services. Click more details on Berks County Public aid.

Pennsylvania CareerLink Berks County – The agency will try to help people find a job, gain new skills, and improve their employment skills and therefore income. Job search related workshops offered include career decision-making, resume writing, and interviewing. Candidates may be able to use direct access to the job matching system. 501 Crescent Avenue, Reading, Pennsylvania 19605, dial 610-988-1300

Berks Community action agency is maybe the number one non-profit to call for assistance and case management. Some information on the resources they offer are below, however other programs are available as well.

  • Housing assistance can include funds to pay rent to help people avoid an eviction and homelessness. It will help people deal with challenging circumstances. Among other things, the applicant needs to prove the ability to pay their rent on a go forward basis. Any deposits or rent will be paid directly to your Berks County landlord.
  • Weatherization is offered for homes, including mobile units. It is federal government created and will help people save money by improving the energy efficiency of their home. It may also address minor repairs or safety issues. Weather stripping, furnace tune ups, and replacing or repairing doors is available in Pennsylvania. Find details on weatherization in Pennsylvania.
  • The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) will help people prepare and file their state and federal income taxes for free. Staff from the community action agency who are IRS trained and certified will help clients. It is for the low income and seniors in Reading and other areas.
  • The Work Ready Program will help people prepare for and train for a new job or employment opportunity. TANF clients can also participate.
  • General case management sessions are available in the region. Specialists will work with clients and help them identify skills and the areas in which they need additional support and training. The Work Ready program can also be used in an effort to provide clients with life skills and basic job-readiness training.
  • Mortgage help is offered from the Pennsylvania Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). It is a statewide program that can help people who have worked hard to purchase their homes. Free foreclosure counseling, loan modifications and more may be provided. After a review, counselors may help borrowers apply for a low interest loan that can be used to pay their home mortgage.
  • Other low income assistance offered can include some or all of the following. This can include budgeting and financial tips to better manage your money, employment counseling, direct mortgage help and more.
  • Budgeting and counseling services is offered by the non-profit agency. It can help people start a business, purchase a car, reduce debts, and more. Also work with a counselor in order to help families and individuals budget their money to save for those goals. Get help building and repairing credit as well, and sign up for debt counseling. Many services are offered for potential first time home buyers too. Click Pennsylvania credit counseling.
  • Head Start is available, along with other Child Development Programs. The program can help break the cycle of poverty by providing children from low income families with a comprehensive service to meet the emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs of children. The federal Head Start program will offer education, social services, health, disabilities, and transition and require parent involvement.

 

 

 

 

Call the Berks Community action agency. The main office is in Reading but resources are offered across the county. (610) 375-7866.

Utility companies in Pennsylvania offer a wide variety of their own assistance programs. There are rebates for energy efficient equipment. Or customers who are behind on their utility, gas, or light bills can ask about payment plans. Or get applications to government grants such as HEAP. Learn more on utility bill help from PA utility companies.

Free clothing and furniture distribution centers range from low cost thrift stores to more traditional clothing closets. There are also free furniture banks. The organizations are run by both non-profits as well as local charities. What may be provided from the location ranges by donation levels, but some examples are below.

  • Free clothes for work or an interview.
  • School supplies, backpacks, and similar goods.
  • Winter jackets, boots, and warm weather attire.
  • There are other services provided too. More on Berks County clothing closets.

Berks County Area Agency on Aging can provide information about services and benefits for the elderly and older adults in the community. Assistance is also available as part of PACE, Property Tax/Rent Rebates and Winter Heating Fuel Assistance. The address is 633 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601. Telephone 610-478-6500.

Other elderly care is offered too. Both free senior centers and government organizations assist. Retirees as well as lower income seniors have resources offered too them for safe housing, medical needs, and other criteria. Even find free loaned medical equipment for the elderly..

Family Promise of Berks County, Inc. runs some regional housing and rental assistance programs. 610-373-3323

Reading Housing Authority runs the section 8 voucher program. While there is a waiting list, the program will require tenants to pay a portion of their rent and utilities based up on their household income. Rent subsidies are made as well. The address is 815 Franklin Street. Call 610-372-3933.

 

 

 

 

Free community clinics in Berks County Pennsylvania

St. Joseph Medical Center – The health care center provides a full-range of inpatient and outpatient diagnostic, medical and surgical services in Berks County Pennsylvania. Pharmacy, law work, and an extensive array of medical care may be offered. 2500 Bernville Road, Reading, Pennsylvania 19605, call 610-378-2000.

Western Berks Free Clinic – Call to get information on free or low cost medical and health care. Telephone 610- 693-6207. An appointment is necessary too.

Other free health care is offered as well. The uninsured and low income can use both clinics as well as government resources, or even turn to companies for help. Everyone from volunteers dentists or doctors may give care to immunizations at schools, drug company pharmaceutical assistance programs, charitable free insulin programs and more. Try DHS at (866) 215-3912 for referrals.

 

By Jon McNamara

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