Luzerne County assistance programs.

Financial help is available for low to moderate income families. Find how to apply for, and where to get housing assistance (rent, mortgages or deposits), utility help (electric or heat),  free stuff (food, clothes, medications) and more in the Wilkes Barre region. There are charities, churches, government offices, or non-profits in Luzerne County that offer financial aid along with social services.

Housing assistance

Luzerne County government officials expect the county will receive over a quarter-million dollars in state funds which will be provided with $2.1 million in federal government stimulus funds to both prevent homelessness and also find housing for victims of the economic downturn and families who may have their their home.

Government funding will be provided to those programs that provide both rental and utility bill assistance for up to 18 months. Funds will help people pay for moving expenses, up to three months storage and even mote and hotel vouchers. In addition, a variety of housing and counseling services will be offered including relocation and housing stabilization services including management and outreach, legal services, case management, services, housing placement and search services, credit repair, and even debt help to help people obtain housing and remain housed in their apartment or home.

The main goal of the funding is to help those who are homeless or would be homeless without the low income assistance, and another criteria is people need to be able to remain stably housed after the temporary assistance ends.

Luzerne County will partner with the leading charities and also the number one poverty agency in the county, which is the Commission on Economic Opportunity (phone (570) 288-8458). They will also work with other local agencies such as the local homeless shelters and also the Domestic Violence Service Center.





Help with bills, rent, free food, and other forms of assistance

The Luzerne Salvation Army runs numerous assistance programs. Among them include a food pantry, which is open Tuesday through Friday of each and every week. The food pantry is open for those in need of free food or groceries. The Salvation Army offers items as they are available such as donated bread and pastries, canned food, food bank food, and other donated items. Clothing and furniture may also be available. Last, but not least, they can usually help guide people on places to go for health with such bills as heating and electric, and housing expenses such as rent. Sometimes they may rarely have emergency financial aid they can distribute. Call the Wilkes-Barre agency at (570) 824-8741, or click more Wilkes Barre Salvation Army.

Catholic Social Services works with local churches and aid organizations to provide support. They assist Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne homeowners who are behind on their mortgage and facing a foreclosure. They offer delinquency counseling, and help homeowners apply for the state of Pennsylvania’s Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) and the federal government’s Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP).

They offer even other programs. Catholic Services also provides both financial and non-financial assistance, budget and debt counseling, and also referral to other appropriate services (such as charities, non-profits, and government programs). The goal of the agency in offering financial assistance is to meet emergency needs and guide clients toward self-sufficiency. For example, get help with paying rent, funds for medications, and money for energy, electric, and water bills. Dial (570) 822-7118, or click here for details.

Commission on Economic Opportunity of Luzerne County may be the leading agency to call for help with bills and ways to get self-sufficient over the long term. Services and programs offered include.

  • Mortgage and rent assistance - They are a HUD-Approved Comprehensive Counseling Agency, and the agency works with renters and homeowners facing housing difficulties. Get help with a foreclosure or other housing programs, including rent assistance.
  • As indicated, the location is a non-profit HUD certified location for Luzerne County. So resources are available for homeowners who are struggling. You can learn about government assistance or a specialist can even negotiate on your behalf. Find more resources for mortgage assistance.
  • Emergency financial assistance - If you have a short term hardship, case management staff assesses emergency situations and explore solutions with you. Financial aid is offered to resolve the financial emergency dependent upon hardship funding availability. You may get help with energy bills to prevent a disconnection, or rent eviction prevention help.
  • Energy bill assistance and weatherization - This assistance program provides financial assistance to individuals and families who are unable to pay fuel bills, heating bills, summer cooling expenses, and people who have had utilities shut off or are in need of emergency fuel supplies or furnace repairs to get themselves warm or cool.
  • Free food - They run a regional food bank for the Luzerne County Pennsylvania area.
  • Free prescriptions - Learn where to get free or low cost prescription medications from, including such programs as Together RX Access. Learn more.
  • Low cost or free health care - The community action agency can refer patients to facilities that offer free, or low cost, medical, dental ,and health care for the low income and uninsured.

Call the Wilkes-Barre PA based Commission on Economic Opportunity of Luzerne County at (570) 829-1665.




Wyoming Valley St. Vincent DePaul provides support in Luzerne County. Most of the services are focused around battling hunger. There is a soup kitchen that serves lunches and dinners as well as food pantry. The church based group also has referrals, and information on, other social services.

  • Clients can learn about emergency shelter and housing programs, including for veterans and families with children.
  • Budgeting and financial management classes are organized, including for low income families that have outstanding loans or that need tips on saving money.
  • There is information on grants to apply to in the Wilkes-Barre region, including for rent, heating bills, or security deposits.
  • Other services include a legal clinic, thrift store, employment resources, clothing, and many assistance programs for senior citizens among others. Find more details on Luzerne County St. Vincent assistance programs.

Luzerne County Assistance Office is a government agency that provides public assistance, grants, and other extensive benefits to all eligible residents of Luzerne County. Programs range from cash assistance from TANF to eviction prevention and money to pay a security deposit. They also coordinate free medical care and offer other financial aid in the county. Call (570) 826-2100 in Wilkes-Barre or dial (570) 459-3800 in Hazleton PA, or click Luzerne public aid.

Low income holiday programs are available. They kick off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and residents are given free Christmas toys to kids, food to households including single moms, meals for the homeless and lonely, and much more. Find Luzerne County Christmas and holiday assistance programs.

Help with rent - If you have an eviction notice, need help finding low income housing, or funds to pay a security deposit, then several organizations specialize in addressing these types of housing issues. Social workers can either help people apply for housing aid, or some agencies may be able to offer direct cash assistance. Read more Luzerene rent assistance programs.

Free legal aid, including foreclosures

North Penn Legal Services (phone (570) 825-8567) offers residents with free legal representation and advice. Get assistance with housing (including foreclosure and evictions), consumer (including debt and predatory lending), utilities, Family law, domestic violence, and government and public benefits. Click here for more information on Pennsylvania legal programs.

Community clinics

Call these health care clinics for referrals or more information. McAuley Clinic, Wilkes-Barre (570) 826-3100, McKinney Clinic RHC, Wilkes-Barre (570) 825-0881, Interfaith Clinic, Wilkes-Barre (570) 825-6653, Kirby Health Center Dental Clinic, Wilkes-Barre (570) 822-4278

Two other places to turn to for free or low cost health care include Wilkes-Barre Free Clinic, which is located in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. Last, but not least, there is Volunteers in Medicine, also located in Wilkes-Barre. Patients must call 970-2864 for an appointment. Find other ways to get medical bill assistance.





Food pantries

Some of the centers in the area include Saint Nicholas Church Food Pantry, Wilkes-Barre (570) 823-7736, Saints Peter and Paul Food Pantry, Plains (570) 825-6663, Hazleton Area Food Bank, Hazleton (570) 455-9515, Share Food Program, Wilkes-Barre (570) 829-7796, and Mountain Top Food Bank, Mountaintop (570) 474-6616.

The locations above can offer free food and other forms of support, such as holiday meals or clothing. If a non-profit above can’t help, there are additional pantries in the county. Read Wilkes Barre area food pantries.

Debt and credit counseling, as well as foreclosure support

Consumer Credit Counseling Services is one of the local non-profit credit and housing agencies. They offer consumers and homeowners a variety of financial programs to serve the consumer during times of financial distress. Get help with your mortgage, and sign up for programs to reduce credit card and medical debts. Phone (570) 602-2227.


By Jon McNamara

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