Helpline in Onondaga County.

Services provided by Onondaga County Helpline are wide ranging. The staff and its volunteers offer everything from referrals to food to limited financial assistance as well as case management. Programs are funded by donations from the public as well as government grants, such as emergency fund and shelter, or other non-profits including the United Way.

A key focus of resources from the Helpline is on feeding families in Onondaga County as well as preventing homelessness. So there may be referrals to money for rental expenses as well as past due utility bills. Free food banks in the region will also partner with soup kitchens to feed children and seniors, or provide free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, among other support.

Funds for bills from grants and donations

In a crisis, there may be funds from programs such as Emergency Food and Shelter or private donations. This will rely on HUD as well as other federal government resources. There is an annual grant process in place, and the funds are very limited.

As resources allow, Onondaga County Helpline may have information on agencies that can help pay for partial energy costs. When funds are available, it can also assist with paying natural gas, heating and electric bills, heating oil, and paying for partial bulk fuel payments. In some instances, there may be one time financial help for water bill and sewer payments. In order to receive any type of financial support, a minimal amount of a good faith copay is necessary from the low income family to pay to the complete bill.

Homeless prevention, in the form of either a loan for rent or sometimes cash grants, is also provided by some non-profits. So the organization may help qualified families or individuals from Onondaga County with paying a portion of their home mortgage or back rent due to a landlord. At most, only one months worth of housing related expenses will be paid by the charity, but this will also be combined with other types of help.

Any type of financial support, whether from rent or utility bills, will be combined with advice to address the cause of the hardship. Case managers from Onondaga County Helpline can also provide advice on preventing an eviction or landlord mediation services. This will also include tips on getting back on track with timely rent payments on their own. There is also the creation of development and monitoring of case plan goals and objectives with the client.




For people that are just too far behind on their bills, then local shelter and transitional housing or apartments in Syracuse and across the county provide private and semi-private quarters. There are units for senior citizens that also provide help for their needs as well as short term housing for women with children.

The sites offer residents a number of services, including laundry facilities, free computers to access the internet for job searches, and space for meetings and counseling. This transitional housing program from Onondaga County Helpline also guides home-seeking clients toward stable lifestyles with permanent housing within short to mid period of time.

Food, clothing, and thrift stores referrals from Onondaga County Helpline

Either direct aid, or referrals, are given to food pantries as well as local clothing closets in Onondaga County. Each outreach center in the region has free groceries or clothing items that are available for those needing some form of nutrition or other assistance. They provide low income or families in poverty with healthy staple foods such as milk, pasta, canned goods, breads, and much more. The service is strictly confidential.

The pantries also focus on the most vulnerable, such as senior citizens that may receive home delivered meals. Single parents with young children can get formula or diapers, and there are other forms of assistance offered too.





When it comes to feeding seniors, children, or even the homeless, meals are prepared and served daily at several satellite meal sites or soup kitchens. In addition, free hot meals are delivered each day to elderly or disabled clients who are unable to leave their homes or apartments on their own. Other  services to senior citizens include transportation, in-home care and assistance for local shopping trips or medical appointments.

Clothing closets as well as Onondaga County thrift stores help to provide the basic supplies, such as winter coats or more, for anyone struggling. There are also free school supplies for children attending school. Non-profits that are in the Onondaga County Helpline database will often receive monetary and item donations from many different businesses, individuals, organizations, fund raisers and community members.

The Helpline can be reached at 435-8300. Referrals are offered to agencies across Onondaga County and Syracuse as well.



By Jon McNamara

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