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Assistance from Chautauqua Opportunities community action.

Financial help, referrals, and social services are coordinated by Chautauqua Opportunities. This is a leading non-profit community action agency for the less fortunate in the community. Every year hundreds of seniors, unemployed, and lower income families turn to the agency. Everything from emergency heating bill help to food and rental costs can be addressed.

Rather than enabling families from the region to be comfortable or complacent in poverty, Chautauqua Opportunities is committed to providing support in order to help people escape it. The main goal is to assist with resolving crisis or emergency situations. As part of this process, case managers will create workable plans to help low-income individuals and families pay their bills, increase income, reduce debt, decrease expenses, and even establish savings. The appropriate tools, resources and opportunities are organized by COI to make this happen.

Find rent help and homeless assistance

A number of preventative services are coordinated in Chautauqua County for families facing homelessness because of eviction, bankruptcy, foreclosure, unpaid utility bills, domestic violence, or a natural disaster. Housing support specialists from COI are available to help clients either pay their back rent or find affordable housing that fits their individual needs.

This homeless prevention program also performs a financial analysis for the client, with resulting guidelines for obtaining and maintaining low income housing or apartments. Staff will even compare various housing complexes or neighborhoods throughout the community on the tenants behalf.

In addition, for those who are eligible, certain residents may qualify to receive emergency financial assistance with paying past-due rent to prevent eviction. Or there may be grants available for paying the first month's rent or security deposit in order to obtain affordable living accommodations.

Utilizing federal government funding received from the Veterans Administration, Chautauqua Opportunities also provides veterans and their family members with assistance with the costs of finding suitable and affordable housing. The non-profit community action also works in partnership with the VA Medical Center as well as Chautauqua County's Veteran's Services Agency to help veterans gain access to services or benefits offered by the US Federal Government.




Utility help from Chautauqua Opportunities

Energy conservation is available to help people save money. In the area of weatherization or energy efficiency, COI housing rehabilitation specialists are qualified to help with Hot Water Tanks, Insulation, Windows and Doors, CFL bulbs – Lighting, and fixing Heating Systems.

In addition to cost saving energy efficiency measures, Chautauqua Opportunities offers several basic repair services that assist in increasing the value and safety of a home. Some of the resources offered for low income homeowners Roof Repair and Replacement, Foundation Repair or Replacement, new Windows or Doors, Handicapped Accessibility Improvements, High Efficiency Heating Equipment, and Air Sealing Measures.

Low interest home appliance loans are available from COI, for the purchase of a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, or freezer. The loans issued must be used for a new appliance, with a fixed interest rate throughout the term.

While not for everyone, COI also offers personal loans for the purpose of improving credit by making an on-time payment for your bills each month. To qualify for this, counseling is needed and other conditions need to be met.

Financial counseling, including mortgage assistance

The non-profit COI is certified by the US Treasury Department to provide pre-bankruptcy advice, counseling and post-bankruptcy debtor education. The low cost counseling includes a personalized examination of each client’s financial situation, as well as help with devising a plan for starting over. In addition, Chautauqua Opportunities may provide the services at a reduced price (or for free) for clients who are found to be unable to pay on their own.

If you are behind on your mortgage, never wait to receive a foreclosure notice from your lender to seek out foreclosure counseling. Those who are behind with payments, or struggling to make them, are encouraged to make an appointment to meet with a HUD-certified housing counselor at COI.





A counselor from the non-profit will work to review the situation, determine available options, and navigate the confusing web of regulations to help people avoid predatory lending or scams. Foreclosure prevention services are provided free of charge to everyone in need from Chautauqua County New York.

The financial literacy program can help clients examine their finances, including household income, expenses, debt, and savings. Counselors explore what you want to accomplish in order to improve your situation.

Trained credit counselors from the non-profit work with clients to review your credit report, offer solutions to credit card bills, resolve errors, and create a manageable payment plan with your creditors.

The Chautauqua Opportunities Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (VITA) program provides trained, IRS-certified volunteers for low income residents. The tax preparers help people file their Federal and State of New York taxes for free. In addition to that, receive your refund quickly with a Refund Anticipation Check.

Head Start from Chautauqua Opportunities community action

COI’s Early Education Program, known as Early Head Start, offers a comprehensive range of opportunities for young children and parents. There are various family support services, programming for children and families available, and more.

Services provided from Head Start enhance the intellectual, physical, emotional, social and development of toddlers and infants. Staff, counselors, and teachers also assist pregnant women in accessing comprehensive postpartum and prenatal medical care. They can also offer social services and help families move toward self-sufficiency and build assets.




Infants and toddlers receive free food and meals as part of daily nutrition while in the Early Head Start child care center. Additional services and assistance programs provided in the Early Education Program from Chautauqua Opportunities include help with accessing health insurance and free medical and dental services in the community. These services are provided in partnership with the National Center of Excellence, either in your home or in our New York State-licensed child care facility.

Locations of the Chautauqua Opportunities include

Laughlin Community Action Center, 402 Chandler Street, Jamestown, NY 14701, dial 716-661-9430

Connections North is located at 10825 Bennett Road, Dunkirk, New York 14048, call 716-366-8176

Connections South is based at 2887 Fluvanna-Townline Road, Jamestown, NY 14707, dial 716-483-5779


By Jon McNamara

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