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Dauphin County assistance programs.

Find information on non-profit organizations, churches and charities that offer services and programs to help people pay their bills, rent, and mortgages. These groups all seek to provide the resources that are necessary for families and individuals to achieve self-sufficiency over the long term. The agencies accomplish this by providing short term aid for hardships people may be facing, information on job placement, credit counseling, or longer term programs so people can get back on their feet.

Emergency assistance for bills and rent

HELP Ministries is an organization that is made up of about 150 local churches. HELP has provided emergency services to thousands of people each and every year over the last 25 years. They also offer case management and other support.

Emergency services provided by HELP and its member churches include food referrals, grants for rent assistance, emergency shelter, and home heating fuel. In some cases the charity will also offer families low income loans. Other resources include PPL assistance, furniture or clothing referrals, mortgage payments, travel and prescription programs. These services and resources are provided in collaboration with many non-profits in Harrisburg, including churches, government and private dollars and local foundations.

Other assistance offered include free fuel and help for paying heating bills. HELP can also provide free prescription medications and referrals for patients and how they can get free health care. Click here for more information on free heating oil programs for the low income, or call them at 717-238-2851. The churches can also offer additional financial aid to residents. For additional details, learn more on HELP Ministries emergency programs.

Consumer counseling

Another resource offered by CAC (phone number below) that will help families and individuals become more informed and responsible consumers. This is yet another way the Commission helps people move toward self-sufficiency. For example, consumers can get advice for how to eliminate credit card and medical debt, how to stop debt collection calls, and referrals to other assistance programs, such as PPL OnTrack program.




PPL OnTrack offers electricity and gas customers with limited household incomes a special reduced monthly payments based on  family size, income, and electricity usage and amount of their bills.

Job training and career development

The Community Action Commission (CAC), which is located in Harrisburg can be reached at (717) 232-9757, offers a workforce development program. This service helps people find jobs and improve their employment and job skills. It addresses the retention and preparation of "new sector" private employees. The formal name of the program is the Success Academy, and it offers computer training for employees in academic enrichment and English as a Second Language; training for front lien supervisors, and employee training in basic, soft skills.

Free income tax preparation

The program, known as Money in Your Pocket, provides free tax preparation services for low to moderate income individuals in Dauphin County. All tax returns are prepared for free by local volunteers and professionals. CAC also offers this program.

Food aid

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank can provide people with free food and groceries. This organization has been dedicated to ending hunger for more than 20 years throughout the state. 717-564-1700. Thousands of families throughout receive food assistance aid from this group. There are several other food banks in Harrisburg Pennsylvania for the needy and low income.

  • Hope United Presbyterian Church, which can be contacted at 717-921-8111.
  • A pantry at Brethren in Christ Church has boxes of food and meals.
  • Several other non-profit centers are available. Find a list of Dauphin County food pantries.





Help for a crisis

Another organization is Neighborhood Center of the United Methodist Church. (phone 717- 233-6541) They offer a wide variety of services and resources. Some of the programs include Caring Closet, which is an ongoing clothing ministry where gently used clothing is provided to neighbors free of charge. And another program is See the Future, which provides free or discounted prescription eyeglasses for low and moderate income, and underinsured adults. Click here for other medical charity programs. They also have a food bank on site.

Economic stimulus - Since Dauphin County houses the state capital of Harrisburg, the government may make announcements from time to time on economic stimulus and/or new grant programs. In general, the state provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the less fortunate, working poor, and low income families. They fund education, job training, housing and emergency energy bill programs. Learn more on some of the more recent announcements made by the state for economic aid.

Harrisburg Salvation Army

This agency also can provide help. They have programs that provide holiday meals and gifts, limited funding for rent and energy bills, grants to help make a mortgage payments, and also health care services and medications. There are several centers in the Dauphin County region, including food pantries and thrift stores that can offer basic needs. Dial 717.233.6755, or read Salvation Army Dauphin County assistance programs.

Counseling, information, and limited financial help in Dauphin County

The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA Inc. provides confidential, professional counseling services to individuals, couples and families by highly trained therapists and licensed psychiatrists. Services are provided regardless of religious affiliation, race or ability to pay. They do not provide financial aid, but a homeless shelter may be available to those that qualify. Call 717-657-4804.

Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area is a partnership of local churches in Dauphin County and Harrisburg PA. They offer numerous assistance programs, including:

  • Rent and housing assistance- The partnership may assist households with delinquent rent payments or provide help to people who need security deposits.
  • Food - Free food and groceries may be provided from a pantry.
  • Medication - Receive free prescription medication if you are facing a life threatening situation.
  • Heating and utility bills - They may be able to provide help to pay an utility or heating bill, and they also work with local utility and power companies to coordinate their assistance programs.
  • Travel assistance - Transportation to appointment and other support.
  • Other faith based services may also be able to assist low income families, and read more on rent help from churches.





Neighborhood Center of the United Methodist Church - Programs offered include child and day care, after-school programs, a clothing bank, summer camp, meal programs, homework assistance, prescription eyeglasses for adults and food and grocery distribution. Find additional programs that may be offered by from churches. Read more on how churches are providing help, or dial 717.233.6541

Rent, security deposits, and housing - If you are faced with an eviction, need funds to pay rent or security deposits, or if you are homeless, then a number of non-profits specialize in housing assistance. Thousands of Dauphin County Pennsylvania residents receive emergency rental assistance every year. Find more on the resources offered in the Harrisburg area.

Helping Hands is a ministry located at 101 North Cameron Street in Harrisburg, PA 17101. They provide referrals to financial aid. Other services include free clothing for work or school (for students), personal hygiene items, and food. Dial (717) 221-0490.

Pathstone is a non-profits that supports individuals all across Pennsylvania and Dauphin County. Assistance is for migrants, the working poor, and others facing a crisis. Resources include food, nutritional assistance, rent help, emergency shelter, security deposit assistance, mortgage assistance and funds for utility or heating bills. All assistance is one time cash grants only. 1625 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17102, dial 610-925-5600.

Find holiday assistance from local charities and non-profits. There are organizations across Harrisburg and the county that provide everything from Christmas toys to meals and clothing. The homeless, seniors, and single moms or parents can also get help at Christmas. More information on Dauphin County holiday assistance.

Hershey Food Bank & Community Outreach, on East Derry Road, offers groceries and referrals. Will rarely have financial assistance for paying utility bills and/or rent in a crisis. However they usually send people to local social service agencies. Credit and free budgeting counseling is available as well. 717-520-3143.

Bridge of Hope Harrisburg Area will try to place clients into permanent housing. The agency will also offer rental assistance; job training and education, Case management for housing, emotional support, and more. The goal is to help families become self-sufficient. Dial 717-635-5957 for appointment.

Shalom House will try to help families move back into housing. The center can assist with rent, utility and other types of support, including intensive case management services and goal setting. Phone number of the non-profit is 717-232-3482.

Community Action Commission runs number programs for the region. Call for information on these or other social services or emergency assistance.

Stabilization is offered from the Family Self Sufficiency Program. The goal is to help low-income and working poor families get out of poverty. Develop a plan, get referrals to education and employment in Dauphin County, access child care and credit repair services, transportation, and other ongoing support.





Energy bill assistance is offered from programs such as PP&L On Track, LIHEAP, and other resources. The PP&L programs provide qualified lower income customers with a special rate on their account. It can even cancel a portion of a balance if you are successful and stay on track with paying your utility bills. Call 800.342.5775 or the Community Action Commission to apply or learn more. LIHEAP is a federally funded program for paying winter heating bills.

Weatherization and the E-Power Wise Program are free conservation programs and can provide energy efficiency education and improvement measures to households.

Rental support is provided from the Prepared Renter Education Program (PREP), counselors, and other resources. The community action agency, working with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, will help tenants and give them the tools they need to remain on track with payments.

Foreclosure Counseling is also available in Dauphin County. Learn how to modify mortgages, restructure debts, manage household finances, and apply for government mortgage assistance programs. The agency can also provide referrals to other sources and non-profits.

The Prosperity Center is offered in partnership with the Dauphin United Way. Get advice and support for effectively managing your finances and budget. The Center also helps clients apply for government benefits, assists in employment search, and offers resume services too.

The Community Action Commission is located at 1514 Derry Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17104. Call (717) 232-9757. They help the low income in Harrisburg and throughout the county. Read more on getting help from Community Action Commission.

Coordination Help Ministries address emergency needs/shelter. The agency also offers clothing, free food, prescription or travel assistance. Funds for rent or heating bills may be offered too. They also run an emergency shelter for single women with children, families, or just single women. Staff work with the YWCA, Shalom House, and Interfaith Shelter. 413 S. 19th Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17104, dial (717) 238-2851.

Bridge Of Hope is made up of local churches in Dauphin County. The charities may have rental assistance for people moving from transitional to permanent housing at certain sites. (717) 635-5957

Elta Community, Inc. runs the Dauphin County Rental Assistance Program (DCRAP) and provides Transitional housing, employment assistance, and life skills. (717) 232-2970

Sharp Program is a Shalom House sponsored after - care Rental Assistance Program. It offers life skills, case management and rental assistance for homeless women. 9 South 15th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104. Main number is (717) 232-3482.

The Dauphin County Housing Authority - The government agency may help residents locate permanent housing, apartments and more. Section 8 vouchers are also available, but there is almost always a waiting list. 501 Mohn Street, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-7598. Call (717) 939-9301.

YWCA of Greater Harrisburg runs the YW-PHD, or Permanent Housing For Homeless With Disabilities. Rental subsidies may be offered along with case management. It is for the disabled or homeless. (717) 234-7931.

Harrisburg Center for Peace & Justice can be reached at (717) 233-3072. The location offers housing, credit counseling, support for utilities, eviction prevention advice and more. Various social services are available.

Brethren Housing Association - Runs transitional housing program and shelter with life skills, case management, goal planning and mentors. Referrals to other low income and public housing units may be offered. (717) 233-6016

Family Promise Of Harrisburg Capital Region runs shelter for women that are pregnant and/or have a child. Free meals, clothing, and other basic needs may be offered too. The non-profit also works with local churches and congregations. 717-737-1100.

Housing Authority of the County of Dauphin - Section 8 and private, low income housing assistance is available. The financial aid is for families leasing from approved, participating landlords or apartment communities. 717-939-9301





Dauphin County Assistance Office is based in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Dial 800-788-5616. A number of government and public assistance programs are administered, such as LIHEAP / Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for your heating bills. Other resources include SNAP food stamps, the TANF cash assistance program, Medicaid, and more. Both state and federal government programs can be applied for. Continue for more information on public aid in Pennsylvania.

Free legal aid and representation

MidPenn Legal Services, located in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, provides residents with free legal advice. Get help with such civil issues as foreclosures, eviction, utility disconnections, consumer debt, and other issues. 234.0492


By Jon McNamara

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