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Blair County assistance programs.

In an effort to help low income families, the underemployed and working poor, there are grant based programs in Blair County as well as free items. Find where to get money to pay for a mortgage or rent payment, how to get free medical care or food, and also emergency utility bill help. Also find how churches, charities, and the government provide other short term, emergency financial help.

Get housing or rent assistance

Families in need can receive rent and utility bill assistance from the Blair Senior Services housing assistance program. It is a nonprofit organization. Most years they help people of all ages pay for their housing and utility costs. In addition to Blair Services, Catholic Charities will help all people, regardless of faith, and provides additional assistance. They can provide food assistance, help with medication, and also housing aid.

Both organizations have a major goal of keeping people in their homes, and will do whatever they can to providing housing aid, funds to prevent utility shut off, and prevent evictions.

Blair Senior Services has historically generally provided grants in amounts of $800 to $1,000 to cover both a first month's rent and also pay for the security deposit. Call 814-946-1235.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, some additional charities that provide rent help in Altoona and Blair County include St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army (phone 814-684-1664).

This groups will usually provide help of $75 or $100 per family because giving the full amount would put the groups out of business as they are low on funds. However, in certain cases they may provide more than the $100. In addition, the Salvation Army has been helping with food and providing meals, although the groups soon expects soon to be receiving calls for both utility and additional rental assistance.

There are many other local agencies to try for housing or rental assistance. Some of them are government funded, and others (such as churches) use donations to help families. The homeless prevention programs can not only help with rent in a crisis, but they provide other resources as well, including deposit help or legal aid. More on Blair County rental assistance.




Blair County Community Action Program

Many of the resources listed below are run by the agency. This agency will be receiving almost $200,000 in federal government stimulus funds that will be used to create a Homeless Prevention and Stabilization Program that will provide case management, housing counseling, employment and job training services, housing search and placement, referral assistance, and some immediate cash grants. Phone number is (814) 946-3651.

Mortgage and foreclosure assistance

A new program can provide residents with help. The Blair County Mortgage Foreclosure Diversionary Program, which is being managed by the  Blair County Community Action Agency (number above), can help homeowners keep their homes and stop a foreclosure.

The Community Action group has been involved with various programs and attempts to restructure mortgages for several years. When the agency helps deal with mortgage foreclosures, the agency has experience in working with banks and lenders to restructure mortgages in a way that homeowners can make the payments and stay in their homes.

In addition, the agency also works closely with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency's Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which will provide homeowners with loans - not grants - to aid residents in keeping their homes. In addition, it provides budget counseling services to homeowners so they can learn skills on their own.

Even as another option, if for some reason Community Action can't resolve your housing and mortgage situation through a newly negotiated mortgage or by using the PHFA program, the agency and your case will come back to the courts where the judges and the court system will attempt to resolve the financial issues with your lender.





Blair County mortgage court

This is a new resource for homeowners. The Blair County Community Action Agency was the agency that insisted upon additional options for homeowners.  The court will be a joint effort between local non-profits and the county court system. It will give home owners a second chance to save their mortgages and avoid a foreclosure. Call (814) 946-3651.

The foreclosure prevention / assistance program will utilize the state of Pennsylvania’s Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. This is a resource that is offered through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to provide financial help and mortgage counseling to individuals who own their own homes and who have been notified that their lender or a financial institution is close to or is currently foreclosing on the home.

The mortgage counselors will also meet with officials from the lending institution to mediate between the two parties to try to find a solution. Another part of this foreclosure program will include pre purchase as well as debt and money management counseling. Find additional ways to get mortgage help in Pennsylvania. More.

Credit card court

Not only is their a solution for homeowners, but their is another court for people overwhelmed with credit card debt. This court type resource was established, which seeks to review and resolve credit card cases each and every month.

The credit card assistance program has proved to be so successful to Blair County families that the Pennsylvania Bar Association gave an award this month to the Blair County Bar Association because of the many attorneys who are helping residents work out their financial problems - either for free or for a very small amount of money. Click here to read more on attorneys who can settle debt, and negotiate solutions to credit card problems.

Emergency financial assistance in Blair County Pennsylvania

American Rescue Workers offers financial assistance for low income families. This can include funds for paying rent or heating bills. The homeless in Blair County may be able to receive a motel voucher. Other resources include free food, clothing, groceries, and ongoing support. 811 Scotch Valley Road, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648, 814-695-0762

Blair Senior Services Housing Assistance Program (HAP) only support older residents and senior citizens. Both housing and other needs can be met. This can include grants for paying rent, water bills and more. The agency offers health benefits screening for older adults/senior citizens and free food from Meals on Wheels. Other resources include Volunteer income tax assistance (VITA), low income housing, Rent Rebate/Tax Credit Information, Government Benefits Screening, and more. The location also serves as a Aging and Disability Resource Center and offers Advocacy/Ombudsmen on behalf of seniors. Call 814-946-1235 for intake.





Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Conferences help the poor, less fortunate, and low income in Blair County. The 3 main services include (1) a free food pantry; (2) low cost thrift store with furniture, clothes, and other goods; (3) referrals to financial aid in the Blair County region. Volunteers and donations generally fund SVDP. More on St. Vincent de Paul emergency help Blair County.

Blair County Community Action Housing Counseling Program can help both tenants and homeowners. The HUD government supported organization can offer mortgage default and prepurchase counseling, home equity conversion counseling and information about HUD rent assistance. Residents can receive supportive services and employment training for people receiving public assistance through TANF. Apply for financial assistance for paying utility bills from LIHEAP. Also apply for weatherization in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and protect them from the elements. Shelter is offered for the homeless.

The agency also offers financial education type services. Counselors provide free information and guidance which protect consumers who are refinancing a mortgage loan or making major repairs from unscrupulous lending institutions or who are considering homeownership. The agency offers free legal representation and guidance for consumers who want to get help in paying bills, reducing their debt burden, and managing their financial resources. Call or stop by the program at 2100 Sixth Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania16602, 814-946-1641.

Altoona VA Medical Center runs the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program in the region, which will allow the veterans to rent from private landlords throughout the area. Also get help for veterans living with a disability, mental illness, addiction, chronic homelessness or other issues obtain safe, affordable, accessible permanent housing. Call 877-626-2500

Salvation Army offers emergency services. There is free daily food, gently used clothing and other services based on need. Referrals or direct aid may be offered for utilities, housing & shelters. Or apply for free Christmas toys from Angel Tree or get a food basket.

The faith based charity also provides students from K to 12 with free back to school supplies, backpacks or uniforms. Or get a Thanksgiving turkey dinner or access to the homeless shelter. Telephone - 814-684-1664. Read more.

MidPenn Legal Services, Blair County, provides free legal services to low income individuals in civil matters. Services include  negotiations and representation before agencies and courts, legal advice, and more. For example, get help in applying for welfare and Food Stamps denials, terminations, over payments and reductions. Support can be provided for illegal lockouts and landlord utility shut-offs, poor housing conditions, public housing/Section 8 eviction hearings, evictions, and mortgage foreclosure. Another common request is for SSDI/Supplemental Security Income issues. 800-326-9177

Catholic Charities, Inc. of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is a partnership of local churches and charities. It can offer emergency financial assistance fuel assistance, utility assistance, Christmas gifts, etc. Case managers also offer caring and compassionate services to persons and families in need and will help them meet basic human rights. 1300 Twelfth Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 16601, call 814-944-9388. Continue reading Catholic Charities Blair County assistance programs.







Blair County Assistance Office offers public aid including assistance programs to lower the cost of telephone bills for eligible customers of qualified telephone services, General Assistance (GA), food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance, and more. They can also help with burial and cremation costs and expenses. 866-812-3341. Learn more.

Food banks and pantries

Claysburg Area Food Bank - Food pantry supplies through USDA and local charities and churches. 574 South Bedford Street, Claysburg, PA, 16625, (814) 239-2440

Martinsburg Ministerium offers food and groceries to the low income and seniors.

Roaring Spring Ministerium accepts donations of canned goods and distributes food to the low income. They also work with local churches. (814) 224-2434

Society of St. Vincent dePaul of Altoona-Johnstown Diocese runs a food pantry, clothing closet, and may offer emergency financial aid. Programs help children, seniors, unemployed, and the working poor. (814) 943-7962

Altoona Food Bank is located at 2100 Sixth Avenue, Altoona, PA, 16602. Call (814) 942-5415

The Nehemiah Project, Inc., 1520 Eleventh Street, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 16601, telephone - (814) 381-7019

Claysburg Area Food Bank offer hot meals around the holidays. Provides gift cards for turkey or ham for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. 574 South Bedford Street, Claysburg, PA, 16625, (814) 239-2440

Many other soup kitchens and food pantries serve needy families. There are also specialty services including Meals on Wheels, weekend backpacks full of food for kids, and more. Locate Blair County food pantries.

Health centers and free community clinics

Altoona Regional Health System - Community clinic for people without health insurance and who have low incomes. Suite D-204, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 16601. Dial (814) 889-6111 for intake.

ARHS Altoona Community Health Center (FQHC) is another Blair County community health center/clinic for individuals with inadequate health insurance. The center will not turn anyone away and can offer basic check ups, medications, and more. Call (814) 942-9600


By Jon McNamara

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