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Commission on Economic Opportunity assistance programs Luzerne County.

There are several programs available from the non-profit Commission on Economic Opportunity, however a focus is on housing. They are a lead agency for the Luzerne County Continuum of Care Process among other things. However, the agency will offer much more than housing solutions. They are also involved in passing out free food, heating bill assistance, and more. There are also employment resources in the Wilkes-Barre region.

Housing programs from CEO

As noted, they are the designated overall lead agency on solving homelessness for the Luzerne County Continuum of Care Process. The agency works in coordination with other human service agencies to best serve those in the area region are homeless or at risk of it.

The Case Management for the Homeless Program offers an array of assistance and supportive services to help those clients who are working to achieve the highest level of self-sufficiency. Once the family who is seeking help meets with a CEO case manager and completes an intake assessment to determine eligibility for the program, all of the resources become available to them. Learn more on national programs that offer help with rent.

Commission on Economic Opportunity may offer material aid and counseling as part of the Continuum. All of these services are integrated to alleviate the tenant’s or homeowners current circumstances. Staff will also motivate the person to work to improve those circumstances, and prevent any recurrence.

CEO’s Mortgage Foreclosure Counseling Program works in conjunction with the Court of Common Pleas Foreclosure Diversionary Program, the state’s Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), and also the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Together they will assist homeowners who are having difficulties making mortgage payments. The community action agency will also serve as the lead agency for the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Foreclosure Diversionary Program.

Staff from the agency plan to continue to address the difficulties experienced by Luzerne County homeowners and to also eliminate the causes and effects that accompany them. The Commission on Economic Opportunity Mortgage Foreclosure Counseling Program works with each homeowners to create a written action plan that includes a verifiable budget profile. This will help with eligibility determination for financial support among other things.




The Veteran’s Transitional Housing Program in the county was created to be a collaborative effort between CEO and the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. Goals include guiding and supporting each veteran as he or she works to gain improved stability in housing, as well as greater self-determination. This is often mean by increased or enhanced job skills and increased income.

Housing stability is accomplished through the development of individual service plans that are developed by the case manager, working closely with the individual. Program services include transitional housing and supportive services for up a number of both male or female veterans who are homeless. This is also a solution for people dealing with serious mental health and substance abuse problems.

CEO works in conjunction with its subsidiary, the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) of Northeast PA, to offer additional housing assistance in Luzerne County. They will assist working families with children, single moms and fixed-income senior citizens with acquiring and maintaining adequate housing. Additionally, assistance with down payments and closing costs is available through HDC and the Growing Homeowners Initiative.

This is funded in cooperation with the Luzerne County Office of Community Development. All financial assistance is contingent upon the availability of government grants and whether the client meets program eligibility criteria. CEO programming includes Comprehensive Housing Advice, Rent and one time Security Deposit Assistance, Pre- and Post-Purchase Counseling, Landlord/Tenant Negotiation, and Foreclosure Prevention. Staff can also help with completing applications for low interest Loan and Grant Programs. There are also referrals to, and information on state of PA homeless prevention and rehousing assistance.

Additional community action services in Luzerne County

Energy conservation is available from tips and more direct support. The fact is that saving money is no longer just a matter of turning down the thermostat and putting on a sweater. Instead the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) addresses this issue by providing a permanent solution to the high cost of home energy service for low-income households, primarily those that include children or the elderly. Learn on on free energy conservation from weatherization.





This is done by Commission on Economic Opportunity by them providing free energy-efficient alterations and improvements to the homes of low-income clients. WAP is funded by the Federal Government through the Department of Energy, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant, the Office of Building Technology as well as State and Community Programs.

The Luzerne County community action agency is also committed to increasing awareness of and enrollment in the Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp service. The SNAP Outreach manager works in conjunction with the Department of Public Welfare to help financially disadvantaged residents with the application process.

The goal of SNAP Outreach is to inform prospective applicants about the program and its eligibility requirements. Information is offered through one-on-one interviews and group presentations. The next step is to prescreen interested individuals to determine eligibility, and then proceed with completing an application for this major government assistance program. Learn more, and find help in applying for public assistance in Pennsylvania.

In partnership with America's Second Harvest, CEO’s Heights Kids Café in Wilkes-Barre provides healthy evening meals for low-income children in kindergarten through sixth grade who may not otherwise have access to affordable food. The program also promotes educational achievement by expanding its focus to offering productive activities during the hours after school, when children are most likely to be unsupervised. These activities include free nutrition education, computer education, homework assistance, and physical recreation.

The Food 4 Kids Programs provides free food for children who would otherwise go without on the weekends and during the long summer months. It feeds students and children at times when school-provided meals are not available to them. Food 4 Kids Weekends is an emergency food assistance program that makes non-perishable items available for students and their siblings over the weekend or holiday vacations, while there is also a service that does the same over the summer.

The goal of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), also known as the Senior Food Boxes Program, is to improve the health of low-income residents aged 60. It does this by providing nutritious US Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity items that allow them to add nutrients that their diets might otherwise be missing.

Boxes of groceries from CEO are packed with canned fruits and vegetables, dry breakfast cereal, rice or pasta, evaporated milk, cheese, fruit and vegetable juices, canned meats, and non-meat proteins such as peanut butter. Food distributions take place each month at senior housing sites in Luzerne County. Other partners include local senior centers and churches.

The goal of CEO’s Center for Employment Opportunities is to contribute to a solution to the problems of unemployment and/or underemployment in Luzerne County. It will also assist welfare recipients as they look for employment. So the agency will offer free job training, tips for searching, and employment skills.





The job training program for the under or unemployed is set up so that the skills and knowledge they provide corresponds with the needs of local businesses. This will help land a position for the client, and  graduates are better qualified for open jobs.

Contact information for Community Action in Luzerne County

Luzerne County residents who are interested in any of these services, or a referral, can dial Center for Employment Opportunities at 570-408-9874. Or residents can call the CEO Wilkes-Barre Office at 570-826-0510 or Hazleton Center at 570-455-4994.


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By Jon McNamara











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