Rockland County public assistance.

Low income families and those living in poverty in Rockland County can receive public assistance (if qualified) from the Department of Social Services (DSS). This county and state agency runs the various public aid programs and services. There are resources for residents that offer shelter, food, disability payments, and free or low cost medical care.

The goal of this government benefits is to meet the basic needs of low-income Rockland County residents. Support services include those that prevent family disruption, strengthen family life, serve as a resource of last resort, and keep a household together. Other public aid can promote individual functioning and help senior citizens in Rockland County and the disabled remain living in their own homes.

Cash benefits are provided to very low income families, including single parents, either under the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the New York State Safety Net Assistance guidelines. The Rockland DSS Temporary Assistance Unit serves those who are unable to work and those who are working due to say a disability or illness, but whose earning wages less than the poverty level.  Additionally, the social worker at the county evaluates applications for any aid and determines eligibility for medical care from the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and SNAP Food Stamps.

Government grants are limited and come with restrictions. Temporary Assistance applicants and clients of the service are required to participate in the Rockland County Employment Unit-assigned work activities. This was created in an effort to provide access to employment opportunities that lead to greater, long-term self-sufficiency. What is available includes Work Experience, Subsidized or Unsubsidized jobs, employment training, Community Service, and also Vocational Education.

DSS food assistance programs are meant to tackle hunger in Rockland. There are a few publicly funded programs, and they are as follows.

  • SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance can provide an EBT card to help buy groceries. Call 845-364-3100 to access this federal program.
  • Anyone can get referrals to local Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens. They generally help anyone facing a crisis, but hours vary.




  • Summer Food Service Program is USDA government funded. This is a New York State Education Department program that offers free, nutritious meals during summer vacation when school-provided lunches and breakfasts are not available. Disabled adults over the age of 18 as well as children up to the age of 18 are eligible. The enrollment number is 800-522-5006.

The Rockland County Housing Program is for the homeless and those at risk of it. Not only is there public assistance for paying certain expenses, but the county also offers casework counseling, referrals, and an array of support services.

Government priorities include providing the most comprehensive as well as appropriate set of services to mitigate any immediate crisis or emergency. Public aid can also ensure the safety, health, and well-being of at-risk family members or promote and maintain family stability.

Once any urgent needs are met by the struggling family, then long term solutions are dealt with. However, the first priority is always emergency placement into housing or financial aid. Only then is support arranged on a long-term basis.

Grants may be used to help those Rockland County residents with a notice of any eviction notices, utility or heating service disconnects, or residential Health Department violations that may occur. In addition to public assistance, the following services are provided as needed to prevent loss of housing.

Home Visits for the vulnerable are arranged. DSS case workers ensure the health and safety of elderly, the disabled and very young family members. Emphasis from this particular service is placed on protecting the health and safety of all individuals at risk as well as maintaining family stability.

Legal aid and guidance in resolving Landlord/Tenant Disputes. There is intervention by DSS as needed. They arrange communication with landlords and pro-bono attorneys to negotiate payment of rental arrears and other concerns.

Permanent Housing, such as rent subsidies and affordable housing alternatives, are combined with Casework and Counseling. These public resources address deeper issues, such as need for childcare vouchers, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health concerns, and unemployment. DSS staff meets with individuals and family members throughout this process.





The federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides annual public assistance for utility or heating bills. Rockland County Department of Social Services will arrange for payments to be made directly to utility providers on behalf of income-eligible households. The program covers the costs for most heating sources, including propane, wood, oil, electricity, kerosene, coal, natural gas or any other heating fuel.

In addition to the Regular HEAP in Rockland County, which runs from November to March, Emergency HEAP is available until March of each year. This is a cash grant for those who have received termination notices on their account.

In cases in which a very low income family has used up both Regular and Emergency utility bill assistance call 845-364-3480 for referrals to other public aid or non-profits. They may refer the family to a community action agency or another partner.

Medicaid is available from Rockland County DSS. This is for Seniors aged 65 and older, Medicare recipients, and people in need of assistance with assisted living facilities, costs of home care or nursing home care. Or the county can refer people to other New York State Department of Health public programs, such as Child Health Plus or the Affordable Care Act.




The Rockland County Department of Social Services Child Care Subsidy Program is committed to assisting clients who are working or in job training. They can get help with obtaining quality childcare, including those who meet the following criteria. There may be vouchers for working parents who no longer receive public welfare benefits or those that live 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Other child care assistance for for clients on TANF, Teenage parents working to complete high school, or those in government approved job training.

The Rockland County Department of Social Services provides public aid as a last resort. The funding often depends on government budgets in place. The Main Office is at 50 Sanatorium Rd., Building L, Pomona, New York 10970. Dial 845-364-2000.


By Jon McNamara

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