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Assistance programs Luzerne County and Wilkes-Barre.

Financial help is available for low to moderate income families. Find how to apply for, and where to get housing assistance (rent, mortgages or security deposits); utility help (electric or heat); free stuff (food, clothes, medications or school supply items) and more in the Wilkes Barre region. There are charities, churches, government aid from Luzerne County Assistance Office Human Services, or non-profits.

Many agencies offer financial aid along with social services. They help residents find or get freelance jobs from home, learn about free government health insurance in Pennsylvania, apply for Christmas toys for their kids, and other help. Emergency short term and long term assistance is available.

Housing assistance

Each and every year, Luzerne County agencies get federal government as well as state grant funds to both prevent homelessness and to also help people find a place to live. The funds can help pay for existing accommodations, help the homeless as well as assist 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 motel and hotel vouchers. In addition, a variety of counseling services will be offered including relocation and housing stabilization services including management and outreach. There are section 8 housing voucher choice vouchers too. Or get free legal services, case management, services, housing placement and search services, credit repair, and even debt help. All of these Wilkes Barre programs can 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 (such as eviction or foreclosure) without the low income assistance. Another criteria is people need to be able to remain stably housed after the temporary assistance ends. Even learn about section 8 waiting lists.

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 County Salvation Army runs numerous assistance programs as well as thrift type Family Stores. Among them include a free food pantry, which is open Tuesday through Friday of each and every week. The food pantry is open for those in need of groceries or hot meals. The Salvation Army offers items as they are available such as donated bread and pastries, canned food, baby formula, and other donated items.

Free clothing and furniture may also be available. There are also free Christmas toys and back to school supply giveaways in Luzerne County. 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 social service organizations to provide support. They assist Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County homeowners who are behind on their mortgage and facing a foreclosure. There is also support for other low income families, immigrants and the vulnerable. 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 in the Wilkes-Barre area also provides both financial and non-financial assistance, free budget and debt counseling, as well as 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. Or get a box of food or hot meal. Dial (570) 822-7118, or click here for details on Luzerne County Catholic Charity assistance programs.





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. This is the county community action agency. 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 on Together RX Access.
  • 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. Or find more details on assistance from Commission on Economic Opportunity of Luzerne County.

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.
  • Luzerne County children and students need food and meals during the school year or summer. Catholic Charities can help. Get information on free school lunches.
  • 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 Department of Human Services 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. There are applications for cash for the disabled, such as SSI. SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and other public benefits are offered by the Wilkes-Barre County Assistance Office.

They also coordinate free medical care and offer other financial aid in the county. Information and assistance is offered in English as well as Spanish. Call (570) 826-2100 in Wilkes-Barre or dial (570) 459-3800 in Hazleton PA, or click Luzerne County public aid.

Free 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. Turkey dinners may be served too. Find Luzerne County free Christmas and holiday assistance programs.

Help with rent or deposits - 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 County 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 free 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. They may give prescription drugs, immunizations, medical care for adults and children, as well as other free healthcare. Patients must call 970-2864 for an appointment. Find other ways to get medical bill assistance.

The uninsured as well as low income can also get other health care, even insurance policies. There are also resources for the unemployed as well as people who live in poverty. One major program is free government health insurance. it can cover seniors, the very low income, and disabled in Luzerne County among others. More on free health insurance in Pennsylvania.

Food pantries

There are a number of charities, churches, as well as government food assistance programs in Luzerne County. Whether it is a box of groceries in an emergency, emergency food stamp applications near you, or even Ensure for seniors or baby formula for infants, help is offered.

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 free food pantries.

Debt and free 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. Deferments, payment plans and other services are arranged. Phone (570) 602-2227.


By Jon McNamara

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