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Community Action Organization of Erie County and Buffalo assistance programs.

Western New York and Buffalo residents can get help from the non-profit Community Action Organization of Erie County. Several services are administered. A focus is on the low income, unemployed, disabled and seniors in Erie County New York. The site is part of the nationwide community action agency network.

The organization and its Emergency Services Division is probably the group that has the greatest amount of demand on it. Case mangers from the non-profit will work with clients to assess their situation and also provide them short-term assistance.

Any aid is limited and is for Erie County individuals and families during a crisis or emergency that threatens their ability to pay for basic needs. So if they are struggling with their rent, food, clothing, and shelter, then the Community Action Organization and its emergency assistance may be an option.

The resources provide referrals, information, cash grants and financial assistance to eligible households. This is only offered of course if funding is available and following an assessment of the application. All financial aid is also issued following guidelines from their emergency assistance program.

In general, CAOEC’s emergency assistance funds are disbursed to help pay the rent and utilities, maintain basic shelter, provide medical attention or essential nutrition. Funds can also help people obtain clothing necessary for protection against the cold winter weather. The resources available in Buffalo and the county include.

  • Pantries for Food, Clothing, Furniture and Personal Care Items. Find more information on free food pantries in Erie County.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Preparation and CASH Financial Literacy Training.





  • Referral Network, Community Outreach and Intake. This will refer residents with available services that are available throughout Buffalo and also Erie County.
  • Receive assistance in applying for government programs and services including HEAP, Food Stamps, Weatherization, WIC, Daycare, Unemployment Insurance, TANF Temporary Assistance, Free School Meals, and Health Insurance.
  • Senior Transportation Service.

Community Action Angels is a key resource. They work with the Buffalo and Erie County Community Action Organization. Programs can help meet the needs of the low income, working poor and the disadvantaged population by providing them with volunteers. Some of the solutions offered include a free Holiday food and toy drive, Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Everybody's Baby Shower, School Supply Giveaway, Project Warmth (hat, scarf & glove drive), Haircuts for Kids, Snack Pack Project (Holland School District), and Child ID Kit Events.

The Community Action Organization of Erie County Early Childhood Department provides comprehensive educational and child development services to children under the age of 5. Assistance is also for expecting moms and income qualified families in the fields of health, education, mental health, disabilities and social services. This is always offered by the non-profit in partnership with the parents.

Help for seniors is available. The non-profit CAOEC has expanded the number and scope of services and activities to meet the ever increasing needs of the elderly and senior citizen population in Buffalo and the County of Erie. In fact, they have created the Department of Senior Services/Community Relations. As part of these services, the agency will pursue the resources and offer solutions that are needed to assist person's age 60 years and old. Some of the programs are below.

  • Food Connection is the name given to a program that delivers a five-day supply of food or groceries each month to homebound elderly residents living in Erie County New York
  • Meals on Wheels will deliver free hot meals or lunches to the homebound.
  • Transportation from the Community Action Organization of Erie County and its partner Linwood/OxFord van service will help seniors keep medical appointments, purchase food at local supermarkets, and participate in other planned outings.





The regional Employment Agency Initiative (EAI) will help the unemployed and other individuals make a successful transition from under or unemployment to being a self-sufficient wage earner. Staff provide services to the job seeker and also local Buffalo employers. Services range from career counseling to direct job placement. The goal of the agency is speed up the time involved in the unemployed person's return to work through direct employment assistance.

Assistance to Job Seekers includes job placement, free case management, weekly training seminars, employment and career counseling, and other resource assistance.

Housing assistance from Community Action Organization of Erie County will help families address the affordable housing crisis in Erie County. The agency will offer referrals and information on child care, education assistance, transportation, financial counseling, and employment. Some of these expenses and challenge cause people to struggle with their rent.

Community Action Organization of Erie County helps with budgeting, debt, discounts and medical needs as well. Much of this is organized by the non-profit in partnership with other local agencies in the Buffalo region including coupon companies. Everyone from the low income to uninsured or residents on the edge of bankruptcy can get assistance from one of these services. One focus is on saving money too, and to this end, find a list of free coupons for saving money.

The agencies New Ventures Housing Program provides mortgage and rent assistance to low income families and individuals facing foreclosures or evictions. So CAOEC services are meant to address those. The non-profit also has specific housing programs (low income and transitional) that are designed to help families address critical housing concerns.

Neighborhood Services Programs and centers are located across Erie County and administer many of these services. Advocacy, outreach and more is available. The locations in Western New York are as follow.




Locations of Community Action in Erie County New York

JFK Community Center, NSD Administrative Office, Environmental Justice Center, 114 Hickory Street
Buffalo, NY 14204, phone: 716.332.4554
Edward Saunders Community Center, 2777 Bailey Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14215, dial 716.332.4380
Pratt Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street, Buffalo, NY 14204, dial 716.852.1671
Lackawanna CAO, 273 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, NY 14218, main number is 716.825.2147
Southtown's CAO, 251 North Main Street, Angola, NY 14006, 716.549.6382
CAO Food Pantry is located at 70 Harvard Place, Buffalo, NY 14209, call 716.881.5150


By Jon McNamara

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