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Assistance programs Chemung County and Elmira.

Locate agencies that provide emergency financial assistance, free stuff or basic needs, and social services in Chemung County. Find grant money for paying utility bills or housing costs, including rent or a mortgage. Or get assistance for medical needs, transportation, free food and more. Other financial help in Elmira and the county includes the following.

  • Churches can provide free clothes, groceries, Christmas gifts or homeless shelters.
  • Charities and non-profits can help pay rental or security deposit payments, offer a free car repair program for low income households, give out meals or furniture and more.
  • Government social services provide job training, grant money, low-income housing and cash aid.

Financial assistance in Chemung County, grant money and free items

Get help with paying utility or heating bills from government agencies. The New York State low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) begins in November of each year. The HEAP program is a federally funded energy program that helps primarily low and moderate income  households with paying for their heat-related energy costs and heating bills.

Assistance is provided in multiple ways. For example, HEAP can issue grants that are used to supplement a household's annual energy cost. There is also an emergency benefit that is used by households who have a heat related energy emergency. Last, but not least, the low-income Home Energy Assistance Program offers people a furnace replacement and/or repair benefit that is used by households with inoperable or inefficient heating equipment or hot water heaters.

Applications can be picked up at the Samaritan Center, located at 380 S. Main St., Elmira for anyone who is not on Temporary Assistance, Food Stamps or age 60 or older. Applications to HEAP are also available at the Chemung County Department of Social Services (DSS), 425 Pennsylvania Ave., Elmira. If you over the age of 60, you can pick up an application at the Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care at 425 Pennsylvania Ave., Elmira.




If you apply and are accepted into the program, the grants and funds are not giving directly to you. Instead HEAP benefits are sent directly to the fuel vendor, utility or gas company.

As mentioned above there is also an emergency component, and these benefits may be available to people  who are eligible for HEAP and have an energy-related emergency such as:

  • Your natural gas service or heat is turned off or scheduled to be turned off by the utility company.
  • Your electrical service is necessary for your heating system to work properly and it is either scheduled to be shutoff or has been shut off.
  • You can receive emergency assistance if you are out of or in danger of running out of your heating fuel
  • If your heating equipment is inoperable or needs to be repaired.

The Salvation Army of Elmira offers the needy temporary financial assistance and cash grants to help working families or individuals who are faced with emergency situations. Based on resources, there may be funds as a form of rental assistance for individuals who are at risk of eviction, money for utility bills, financial assistance to purchase necessary prescription drugs or medications.

The Salvation Army may also have money or free vouchers to purchase gasoline for work. Christmas assistance and meals may be offered too as well as back to school supplies for students or shelters for the homeless. There are several centers in the region. Call (607) 732-0314, or click more Salvation Army Elmira assistance.

Chemung County Emergency Services Center - The location provides prescription, security deposits and first months rent, electric, gas and heating bill assistance, and water bill payment assistance. 607-737-5302

Arbor Housing and Development - Horseheads is the local section 8 housing agency.

If you need more information or to apply for the Furnace Repair and Replacement component of the HEAP program, this component is available to help low income renters or home owners replace or repair furnaces, boilers and other direct heating components necessary to keep the home's primary heating source functional. This Furnace Repair and Replacement Component is also offered by the Samaritan Center, and applications for that program are available at that site or at the Chemung County Department of Social Services, 425 Pennsylvania Ave., Elmira, NY. Read more on electric or energy bill assistance.





If you have an emergency or are facing a crisis, households with a non-utility heat related emergency, such as about to have your service turned off, you have ran out of fuel (no oil, propane or wood), during nonbusiness hours, you need to call 795-5766 for assistance with your heating bill or service.

The local community action agency is the Economic Opportunity Program, Inc. of Chemung County. Elmira NY based, phone (607) 734-6174. They have on site an Energy Services Bureau that provides weatherization services which allow households and families to conserve energy and fuel usage. Head Start is on site too, and it can provide social, physical, cognitive, and language development growth that provides positive and healthy experiences to children. Medical and Dental programs are offered too.

Resources from the CSEOP community action agency are limited, but there may be instances in which they have federal government grants for low income families. During these periods, the agency can often help with paying back rent or other emergency expenses such as a heating bill or deposit. Also, all clients of the Economic Opportunity will have to take part in some form of case management, which will address any employment or budgeting challenges that the family has. More on Economic Opportunity Program of Chemung programs.

Elmira Catholic Charities administers services and assistance programs across the county. They also partner with other churches, charities, and organizations in southern New York. Several homeless prevention and shelter type resources are offered, such as emergency rent and energy bill help. They have referrals to government assistance, employment programs, and resources such as mental health. Other Catholic Charity aid can include food, groceries, and clothing. Click Catholic Charities Chemung County.

Chemung agencies that offer rent help - When facing an eviction, non-profits may offer emergency financial aid for paying a portion of rent. There are also low income housing units for seniors and families in poverty. So there are various housing programs offered.

Most of the aid is temporary, however a grant may help some tenants with either rent arrears or even a security deposit. If a family is not qualified, referrals may be given. Find rent assistance in Chemung County.

Free food, groceries or meals from food banks

Stop by, call, or apply at any of the following. Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry (607) 733-0300), In His Presence Food Pantry (607)529-6387 ), Food Bank of The Southern Tier (607) 796-6061), Riverside Food Pantry (607)733-5000).

There are several other food pantries or soup kitchens as well. They use volunteers and donations to help the needy. Several services may be offered, as follows.

  • Applications to SNAP food stamps, USDA commodities, or WIC vouchers.
  • Free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
  • Additional supplies such as clothing, diapers, or school items.
  • Find the other free food banks in Chemung County.

Foreclosure assistance and mortgage help

If you are struggling with paying your mortgage or facing a foreclosure, Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties as well as Tri County Housing Council in Big Flats are may be able to to help their clients keep their homes.





Both of these local non-profit agencies offer foreclosure prevention services as well as other ways for borrowers to get help with their mortgage. Most of the assistance in Chemung County is free. The average time to complete a modification is around seven months.

While the process is very lengthy and requires lots of documentation and phone calls to banks and lenders, the goods news is that some people are getting relief. Local lenders and banks are usually easier to work with when trying to stop a foreclosure, but it takes too much time to get through to the larger investment banks and mortgage houses. But they eventually do respond, and provide some type of solution.

If you are interested in foreclosure prevention and live in Elmira or Chemung County, contact Catholic Charities at 607-734-9784. Or click here to find other ways to get mortgage help in New York state.

Counselors at Catholic Charities can offers one-on-one counseling designed to present the basics of personal finances, to help establish good credit and/or repair bad credit, to assist participants in making the transition from renter to owner, to help resolve mortgage delinquency and/or prevent foreclosure.

Arbor Housing and Development (call 607-776-7664) is a non-profit HUD certified agency that offers one-on-one housing and foreclosure counseling designed to present and improve the basics of personal finances, to help the low income and clients of the agency establish good credit and/or repair bad credit, help resolve mortgage delinquency and/or prevent foreclosure and to assist participants in making the transition from renter to homeowner.

Public health clinics

A community clinic is run by the Chemung County Health Department. (607) 737-2028. Provide a broad range of diagnostic and treatment services including primary adult and pediatric care.


By Jon McNamara














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