Erie County Pennsylvania assistance programs.

Low income families can find churches, charities, government grants or non-profits that offer financial aid. Apply for help with rent or paying security deposits, free grants to pay heating or utility bills, or get free groceries from pantries or medical care from clinics. Resources in Erie County offer support. Whether it is a loan for a family, grant for the disabled or elderly, or other assistance such as free gasoline or winter clothes, there are programs available.

The local community action agency, known as the Greater Erie Community Action Committee, offers several assistance programs to local residents. Find information below on this organization, as well as details on other local charities and non-profit organizations at the bottom of the page. Combined, this groups can provide help with rent, debt assistance, foreclosure prevention, medical care, and other aid.

Foreclosure and mortgage assistance

  • The state of Pennsylvania created the Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). It is a program that can both provide mortgage relief, as well as foreclosure counseling. The HEMAP program is a way to help people stay in their homes, and it is cost-effective means of preventing homelessness among Pennsylvanian families. The foreclosure/mortgage program will help homeowners in Erie who are financially unable to make their mortgage payments due to a hardship or short term financial emergency. The Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program provides families and individuals with a low cost loan. Find more details on free mortgage assistance programs in Pennsylvania, and learn how to apply.

Debt and credit assistance in Erie County

  • The Greater Erie Community Action Committee also helps people deal with debt, from credit cards, medical bills, or other sources. Counselors and volunteers will work directly with the debtor to explore solutions and options that they may have. The programs will help people repair their credit, provide information on debt collection laws and programs such as debt settlement, and provide other ways to get help.





Rental assistance programs

  • Many renters are facing eviction, or need a little help to stay current with their monthly rent payments. The community action agency also can provide assistance to families and individuals with paying their first month's rent and / or a security deposit. There are some program constraints. For example, at most they will pay up to $750 - maximum is $1000 every two years to applicants without children. If you have a child and family, the maximum amount of aid provided will be $1500 every two years.
  • Also note that checks are mailed directly to the landlord in Erie County Pennsylvania. The amount of rent assistance is subject to a client fee determined by the applicants total household monthly income and also the rent/security deposit being requested. The community action agency provides this service. Dial (814) 459-4581.

Weatherization and the Warm Program

  • The purpose of these two services is to help people lower their heating and utility bills. It is a free program in which qualified families receive energy conserving improvements to their home. The goal to provide energy efficient improvements to both eligible renters and owners who live within the County of Erie.
    • The Weatherization program will make a client's home more energy efficient, comfortable, and safer to live in. After applying, the client's dwelling will be assessed by a professional. An audit is performed on the home or apartment in accordance with industry standards to determine the best possible solution to help someone conserve energy. Some of the energy conserving measures taken include weather-stripping, replacement of broken glass or windows, caulking, floor and attic insulation, and furnace inspection and replacement. More on Pennsylvania weatherization.
    • The WARM program is a free weatherization and energy education program that is run just for GPU Energy's residential customers.

Find help in Erie for paying utility and heating bills

There are three different resources and programs that people can turn to for electric bill help. They include:

  • Neighbor for neighbor heat fund - This is a local Erie County community program that provides financial assistance and cash grants for resolving heating emergencies to the elderly, senior citizens, persons with a disability, and families and individuals with a certified medical condition. If you apply and qualify for aid, eligible individuals can receive up to a maximum $300 per calendar year to pay for overdue heating, gas, or electric bills, to repair heating equipment, or to purchase fuel.
  • GPU Dollar Energy Fund - This program is just for GPU energy customers. The fund was created for people who have become behind on their payments due to an emergency situation (such as a loss of employment, illness, medical emergency, divorce). A one time payment will be provided.
  • Customer Assistance Program (CAP) - This is the general name for a counseling and assistance program. CAP provides case management, information, access to government programs and assistance to assist local utility customers who have become payment-troubled in their energy and/ or heating accounts due to emergency situations or a short term hardship.

Contact the Greater Erie Community Action Committee at (814) 459-4581. They offer a number of grant programs, poverty fighting services, and other support. Or find more information on the Greater Erie Community Action Committee assistance programs.




Free primary medical and dental care

St. Paul’s Neighborhood - The organization runs a free medical and dental clinic that will provide free primary dental and health care to income eligible and other qualified patients throughout Erie County. Patients to the clinic will receive free, high quality health care from a dedicated volunteer staff of medical and dental professionals as well as other volunteers. (814) 454-8755

Funds for emergencies

Some local charities or non-profit agencies to turn to for help for a short term crisis include St. Martin Center, Inc. (1-888-452-6113), and the Erie County Salvation Army ((814) 454-6497).

These groups can help people receive emergency food and other financial assistance. When these groups have adequate funding, the organizations can provide financial assistance for paying rent, mortgage and utility and heating bills, life-sustaining prescriptions and medications, and the agencies can even provide transportation in the form of bus passes and gasoline vouchers for free fuel. More on gasoline vouchers.

The Erie County Pennsylvania Assistance Office is another resource to call. They can be reached at 1-800-635-1014. They administer the following programs, and can refer people to resources and services. Cash assistance, home heating assistance (LIHEAP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide help with child care expenses, health insurance and care coverage, and food and school meals.

Rent help from non-profits - In addition to the housing and rental assistance offered by the community action agency (see above) tenants have several other resources available to them. A number of agencies and government assistance programs can help people in an emergency pay their rent. Find rent assistance in Erie Pennsylvania.

Center for Family Services – The location provides various services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, counseling, parenting classes, short term housing, free food from a pantry, and clothing. The main address is 213 Center Street, Meadville, Pennsylvania 16335, call 814-337-8450. There is also a low cost thrift store on site with furniture, household goods, and other supplies. More on financial resources from Center for Family Services.

Erie County Salvation Army is operated from 1022 Liberty Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16502. Among resources offered includes homeless shelter, food bank, furniture assistance, and emergency clothes. The center is part of the western Pennsylvania Salvation Army organization, so its coverage extends to many towns and cities in the region. While resources are limited, other programs can provide financial assistance for rent or energy bills. Also meet with a social worker for employment services and homeless prevention. Clothing, Christmas meals and gifts are available too. Dial 814-454-6497. More on Erie County Salvation Army.

Saint Martin Center runs various emergency assistance programs. Food, financial assistance for rent and utilities, prescription, clothing, and household items are all offered. 1701 Parade Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16503, call 814-452-6113





Erie County Assistance Office runs the various government and public assistance programs for seniors, the low income, and working poor. Cash assistance can be provided for paying for expenses such as medical care and bills. Food stamp benefits and WIC can be applied for. The energy bill assistance program (for heating costs and cooling bills) is offered. Other resources include employment and job training services. The office is at 1316 Holland Street. Call 814-461-2000, or read more Erie County public assistance.

Also offered from here is the Erie County WIC Program. Nutritious baby formula and food is offered for pregnant women, infants and children to age 5. Call 814-455-9102

Free holiday (Christmas and Thanksgiving) programs can help the poor, low income, and needy. Most of the help is for kids as well as seniors, but others can apply too. Everything from clothes to free toys, meals, and grocery boxes may be given out. More on free holiday and Christmas help in Erie County.

Food banks and pantries in Erie County Pennsylvania

The following charities and non-profits may be able to distribute free food, non-financial aid, clothing, or other forms of help to residents in the community.

  • North East Community Food Pantry - (814) 725-9777
  • Second Harvest Food Bank Of Northwest Pennsylvania - (814) 459-3663
  • Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul runs a food pantry for the community. 134 West 7th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16501, call 814-452-3779 for hours.
  • Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, is located at 501 West 31st Street, Erie, PA. Phone number is 814-452-4040. Health screenings and a pantry are offered.
  • Erie City Mission provides needy individuals with food, shelter, a place to rest, and general advice and case management. Phone 814-452-4421
  • Joel II Restoration Outreach is located at 2201 Reed Street, Erie, PA 16503, dial 814-455-4464. Provides free food, clothing, and small house hold items.
  • Kearsarge Area Food Pantry – Focuses on unemployed, senior citizens, and persons whose income is within the guidelines. Distributes household products and food as they are donated. Phone 814-864-1920
  • Metro Erie Meals on Wheels – Volunteers can deliver low cost or free meals to those mentally or physically disabled, aged, or home bound. Call 814-452-6930. Continue and learn more on free Wheels on Meals.
  • Northwestern Food Pantry – Provides books, coats, clothing, and new gifts for Christmas. This is of course in addition to food and meals around Thanksgiving and Christmas. #1 Robb & Powell Avenue, Albion, Pennsylvania 16401
  • Rainbow Connection Thrift Store – Sells items at low cost. There may be a small charge for products. However some people may get items for free, if they have vouchers from churches and local non-profit agencies. What is on site ranges from used clothing and shoes, and small household goods and books for qualified lower income individuals and families. The center is run by Erie United Methodist Alliance, 1516 Buffalo Road, Erie, PA 16510, telephone 814-453-4080
    The Refuge is a program from the Erie United Methodist Alliance. Call 814-454-6088. This resource is for emergency and basic needs for food and shelter for families with children, including information on rental assistance programs.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of NWPA - Basic food bank that partners with local churches and charities. Access a state food purchase program, and Kids Café too for summer meals and other support. 1507 Grimm Drive, Erie, PA 16501, call 814-459-3663
  • Waterford Presbyterian Church – Boyd House has a food pantry too. Provides referrals to food stamps and WIC, food donations, Christmas gifts to children, Thanksgiving baskets and clothing to low income families. 3rd and Walnut Streets, Waterford, Pennsylvania 16441, call 814-796-2929





Legal and job services

Northwestern Legal Services can offer free legal aid and representation. Call the law firm for free or low cost direct representation, judicare program, telephone advice, pro bono programs, and clinic classes. The law service is run from 1001 State Street, Suite 1200, Erie, PA 16501, main number 814-452-6949

Saint Benedict Education Center – Can help people find a job, improve their skills, and gain an education. What is facilitated is job retention, case-management, education, job training and placement, and other supportive services. Main number is 814-452-4072


By Jon McNamara

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