Lancaster County Pennsylvania assistance programs.

Find rent and housing assistance

The local Lancaster County commissioners have implemented a plan aimed at helping people find assistance with paying their rent and also prevent an eviction.

This program will aid those individuals and families who are on the verge of losing their apartments or rented homes, and it will provide them with rental assistance for up to a six months timeframe. In addition, people who have recently lost their homes and have become homeless can also get financial aid to put them back into a rental property.

Almost $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Federal Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program has been sent to Lancaster County. In addition, the city of Lancaster has received another $700,000 from the same federal government program.

The county and city have worked together, and they have decided to combine their respective funds, and are also using an additional $260,000 that the county government received from the state of Pennsylvania, to initiate a unified, three-year program to provide help with paying rent, financial assistance and even housing relocation services to stop evictions, prevent homelessness and to get homeless people back into affordable, quality housing as quick as possible.

The county redevelopment authority is managing this program, and it will be implemented by a partnership that involves Tabor Community Services, the United Way of Lancaster County, and also the Community Action Program of Lancaster (CAP) (717) 295-488.

There are conditions and criteria. Tabor or CAP will determine how much monthly rent a family can afford to pay each month for their housing, and then money for payments that will cover the rest of the monthly bill will be sent on the applicant's behalf directly to the landlord to cover any shortfall in rent.

In addition, if applicants to the program have already have lost their homes or apartments, the program will provide money to relocate them to new housing and help them get back on their feet.





The assistance is not provided indefinitely. The local program's guidelines state that a person can get assistance for up to three months at the start of the program. Then, if they still need rent or housing help after that time, the assistance can be extended for another three months, for a total of 6 months.

Additional Lancaster PA housing programs - Almost 10 other organizations specialize in providing rent and housing assistance. Families who are faced with a crisis, who have an imminent eviction, or who may need help paying for a security deposit or assistance in applying for section 8 can get help from these centers. Learn more.

Help with bills from Tabor Community Services

This is a community program for Lancaster County residents. Tabor Community Services helps Lancaster County, PA families and individuals by teaching and enhancing them the skills they need to solve their financial and housing problems. They offer a variety of assistance programs, and can put people in contact with the correct organizations.

They offer credit counseling and credit card help, mortgage and foreclosure advice, resources for rent help, self sufficiency programs, and more. Call them at (717) 397-5182, or stop by at 308 East King Street, Lancaster Pennsylvania.

Community Action Program of Lancaster

You can receive short term help from this community action program as well. Some of the aid that can be obtained is with utility bills, food aid, child care, and more.

As an example of one program offered, the OnTrack program can help with heating and energy bills. Some of this assistance provided is a reduced equal monthly payment on their utility bill, and it will be based upon both family income and size. They will also guarantee electrical service without threat of cutoff. You can also get some old bills canceled as well, and OnTrack provides the cancellation of any portion of unpaid bills and any debt owed to PP&L for every month the family makes the OnTrack Payment schedule. Weatherization energy saving programs can also be implemented.




  • Rent Help from the Homeless Assistance Program : The Community Action Program of Lancaster also has funds and grants that they distribute to help low to moderate income people pay their rent, and funds to also prevent an eviction. The program has a federal as well as state government funded component. Its goal is to help low-income and struggling families struggling pay their rent and also avoid eviction. In addition, if someone is currently homeless, it can also help the homeless find permanent housing and also pay their first month's rent and security deposit. Lancaster County and Lancaster city received a few million dollars from the state government, and also a combined $2.1 million in homelessness assistance grants from the $787 billion federal recovery act, better known as the stimulus plan.

Contact the Community Action Program of Lancaster for more information and applications for assistance. 205 East King Street, Lancaster, PA 17602-5025, phone number is (717) 295-4883. or continue reading on Community Action Program Lancaster County.

Low cost or free child care

Elizabethtown Child Care Center, which can be reached at 717.361.9824 offers very affordable or free, high quality child care. Costs of the child care services will be based on parental household income as well as the family size. The services offered by the center enable low-income parents to work and become self-sufficient over the long term.

Another agency that may be able to help is the Lancaster Day Care Center. This non-profit agency also provides low cost or free quality day care for children. The center was established to assists low-to-moderate-income families with child care fees and expenses. Call them at 717.392.7413.

Get free legal counsel and representation from lawyers

MidPenn Legal Services provides free legal assistance, counsel, advice, and representation to low-income and elderly families in the Lancaster Pennsylvania region. Some of the clients they help have issues to deal with such as foreclosures, domestic violence, welfare, debt collectors, elderly, homelessness, social security, and other poverty-related issues. Attorneys from MPLS will help increase access to the justice system for the elderly and poor families, and they help clients foster independence, as well as addresses both the symptoms and the root causes of poverty and low income families in the area. Dial 717.234.0492, or click here to learn more.

Crisis assistance

Two non-profit agencies to turn to for help include Neighborhood Services (717.392.2175) and the Salvation Army (717.397.6255). Neighborhood Services offers assistance such as The Conservatory Program, the Guardianship Program, The Representative Payee Program, The Discretionary Budget Assistance and Emergency Intervention Program. The non-profit agency also helps people in financial crisis. On the other hand, the Salvation Army of Lancaster County offers families and individuals immediate emergency assistance to people in need of help, without discrimination to their background. The agency provides help for rent and housing costs, low-cost child care, gasoline vouchers, food and utility bill aid. Click here to find additional electric bill help.





The Salvation Army of Lancaster County offers a wide array of other programs, and has a few locations in the region. Meet with a case manager to learn about additional services available, including job training and holiday assistance. Read more Lancaster Salvation Army.

Ephrata Area Social Services provides assistance to portions of Lancaster County. The non-profit works closely with local churches and charities to help the less fortunate and poor. While some financial aid may be offered for paying rent or utilities, the focus is on basic needs.

The organization may be able to provide free food or clothing from a pantry and clothing bank. Other support includes Meals on Wheels for seniors and the disabled as well as free or low cost transportation. Read Ephrata Area Social Services programs.

Programs for holiday assistance are available. A number of agencies provide everything from food and a hot meal to free toys, Christmas gifts, and presents for children. Churches and other groups may also bring a meal to a senior or homebound person in Lancaster as well. More on holiday help in Lancaster.

Lancaster County Project for the Needy - This organization focuses on food and other related social services. A particular emphasis is on providing assistance around the holidays, including Christmas. Meals, gifts, toys, and other holiday aid is offered. Click here.

Lancaster County Council of Churches provides assistance if residents are out of all other options, such as government aid. Local charities and churches can help with the following from their office at 344 North Marshall Street, or call 717-291-2261.

  • Housing expenses, including grants for paying back rent, utility or heating bill assistance, and information on loans.
  • Basic medical needs, such as prescription drug vouchers.
  • Free food from pantries and applications to benefits.

Salem Family Ministry runs a free food and clothing bank. Other aid may be gasoline vouchers, funds for rent or energy bills, vouchers for fruits and baby formula, and more. Location is 339 West Gramby Street, Manheim, Pennsylvania, 17545, dial 717-665-2331

Homes of Hope is only for residents in the Warwick area. There may be emergency money to help prevent an eviction. Any support will include budgeting and sessions with a credit counselor. The goal of the non-profit is to keep families, including those with children and single moms, housed. Call 717-735-7540.

Fair Housing Center is located at 123 East King Street. Lancaster County tenants that are threatened with an illegal eviction, or face unsafe housing conditions, can get free advice and support, including legal aid. There may also be referrals to financial support and targeted services, such as SSVF for veterans in Lancaster or supportive housing for the disabled or elderly. Phone - 717-299-7840, or read more.





Locations of clothing and distribution centers for household supplies - Low income families that are in a crisis, have children in school, or are working can be provided free clothes, school supplies, and similar goods. Other locations sell items at a low price. Find clothing closets in Lancaster County.

Government and non-profit homeless prevention - Tenants and homeowners can seek help as part of welfare or they can contact a charity. There are resources for struggling families, with a focus on veterans and the disabled among others. When qualified, eviction or foreclosure help includes everything from counseling to direct financial aid. More information.

Non-profit food banks

There are agencies across Lancaster County that provide free groceries, emergency food boxes, and other assistance to struggling families. Some of the centers will even have clothing or serve special holiday or Christmas meals. Some pantries include the following.

  • Columbia Food Bank - 717-449-5101 has referrals, emergency food and more.
  • NE County Food Bank has vouchers and other help. Telephone - 717-354-3776.
  • Senior centers may deliver free meals to the elderly and also operate congregate sites.

There are many other locations, and find more food pantries in Lancaster County.

Job finding services and other aid in Lancaster

The Urban League is a community-based organization with a mission to help low income, minority groups, working poor and the other disadvantaged in the community reach their full potential. The organization is located in Southeast Lancaster. Programs are offered in employment and training, job finding assistance, life skills education, HIV/AIDS outreach, information on grant programs, teen pregnancy support services, and  other aid is offered. Call 717.394.1966

Free medical and dental services

A facility to stop by at is the SouthEast Lancaster Health Services. Call 717.299.6371 to make an appointment. The medical facility provides bilingual medical and dental services to Lancaster Pennsylvania residents. The help provided will be based on a family focused, preventive approach to health care and dental needs. Specialties offered by the clinic include obstetric/gynecology, chiropractic, pediatrics, dental cleanings and surgery, cardiology, psychiatric care, and general check ups. They even can advice people on how to settle medical debts.

The Welsh Mountain Medical & Dental Center is a so called rural community health center that has as its mission the goal of providing high quality medical and dental care, as well as health education services. The medical facility ensures that everyone in the area has access to complete healthcare, especially the unemployed, low income, and uninsured. The facility focuses its help on those who may not have financial resources and funds. Phone number 717.354.4711.


By Jon McNamara

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