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Assistance programs in Yates and Seneca County.

Charities, churches, and government programs (including Seneca and Yates County DSS) help low income or struggling families pay their bills, get food, and other support. Below are the main places to go to for emergency financial help, cash aid, free goods and more. May resources are offered in Seneca as well as Yates County.

Whether it is rent or heating bill assistance, free back to school supplies or clothes, mortgage foreclosure prevention, boxes of food or medical care, assistance is available. Some is seasonal (including free Christmas toys or summer meals for kids) and some financial aid is year round, including water bill help, security deposit assistance, Extra Help Medicare for the elderly or transportation.

Financial help for bills, food, medical and other needs

The leading non-profit to call for help is Pro Action of Steuben & Yates, Inc. They are a community action agency that is focused on the low income and working poor. Both emergency financial aid and long term stability, such as employment or debt help, is arranged.

  • Utility bill assistance is offered from Home Energy Assistance Program. The federal government funded program can help pay energy bills. The focus is on winter heating costs, but some funds may be offered from time to time in the summer for paying cooling bills.
  • HEAP in effect allows customers across Seneca and Yates County to pay their utility bills using government money, so that in effect frees up their income to pay for other basic needs such as rent, medications, or food. Money is also offered in an emergency, such as a shut off or someone running out of heating oil.
  • Other resources can pay for the repairs and/or replacements of furnaces or air conditioners for households with inoperable heating or cooling equipment. The Department of Social Services partners with Pro Action in offering this service.
  • Senior Employment Program is offered for low income residents over 55 years of age. Earn a small stipend while also learning skills and gaining experience. You may be placed into paid community service employment and internships with local non-profits.
  • Weatherization Assistance Program – Reduce your cooling and heating bills by improving the safety and energy efficiency of your home. Conservation is available for both multi and single-family homes. People who apply for, and receive weatherization, will experience significant household energy use savings. Average savings on your utility bills will be in excess of 20%.




  • Job Programs - Programs can help people find and respond to job opportunities in the Finger Lakes region. As many people know, sometimes just getting enough experience is the hardest part. So Pro Action has developed partnerships with local employers and agencies to place people into positions to gain experience. even find other jobs for New York families.
  • EmPower NY is another energy conservation measure. EmPower is only for NYSEG customers and it also focuses on electric bills and usage. So it does not deal with some of the same issues as weatherization.
  • Affordable food is offered from a service known as Food Sense, which is a group purchasing program. Or think about it like bulk buying. Participants of the program pay $15.50 and receive 45 dollars' worth of food in one distribution. All food, meals, and groceries are of the highest quality.
  • One Stop Career Centers / Workforce NY – Yet another employment program offered by Pro Action of Steuben & Yates, Inc. Use resources to develop your skills and find opportunities for employment.
  • Free work or year round clothes - Pro-Action of Yates County provides clothes for school work, job training, and employment-educational needs or uniforms too. As looking professional for work is important, as is building confidence for the employee. Find other free clothing closets near you.
  • Senior Nutrition – Is offered for people over 60. Some meals are home-delivered too. The senior program provides up to two nutritious meals per day to the elderly. Meals are also served on weekdays at congregate meal sites and food pantries in both Yates and Steuben County. Each meal provided to seniors provides 1/3 of the Recommended Daily Allowances of important nutrients.

The locations of the Pro Action center is 117 East Steuben Street, Suite 11, Bath, New York 14810-1600, Phone:(607) 776-2125, or learn more on community action of Yates County area.

Catholic Charities of The Finger Lakes supports both Yates and Steuben County families as well. The non-profit can provide energy bill help from HEAP. Also apply for emergency financial aid for buying prescriptions, medical care such as glasses and dentist bills, and transportation too. May have limited funds for rent or housing costs. Food, holiday assistance and programs for seniors are offered in central New York

Catholic Charities has many churches in the region. They help farm workers (locals and migrants), the working poor, elderly and vulnerable. Both financial aid as well as counseling is offered in Seneca as well as Yates County. The organization is one of the leading social service agencies in the region. Click here Catholic Charities Seneca County region.





Department of Social Services is an option in both Seneca and Yates County. DSS is the place for government and public aid. Most of the cash aid, social services and government benefits are for the very low income, unemployed, or elderly or disabled.

Applications to state of New York aid are offered. The main programs include SNAP food stamps applications as well as low income energy bill help from HEAP. DSS helps the disabled apply for SSI disability payments and arrange home care for senior citizens. There is also Medicaid healthcare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/Safety Net, Child care vouchers and other aid.

A major focus is on helping the elderly. There are resources including Medicare or prescription drug assistance programs, such as Path D and others. Seniors can get the care they need, and read more on Extra Help Medicare for the elderly. The two offices are at

  • Seneca County Department Of Social Services, 1 Dipronio Dr #2, Waterloo, NY 13165. Phone (315) 539-1800
  • Yates County DSS is at 417 Liberty Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527. Call 315-536-5100

Seneca County rent and security deposit assistance - A few local charities, government social service offices and government programs provide financial aid for housing costs (rent, utilities, apartments, deposits, etc). The goal is both homeless prevention as well as rehousing. There may also be hotel room vouchers, loans, free motel vouchers, or rent grants or loans for single mothers and more. Continue with Seneca County rent assistance.

Community Action Agency of Seneca, Yates, and Wayne - The regional not for profit is a resource for those that are struggling. Short term, emergency assistance for needs such as food or rent may be combined with long term support, such as job placement.

The agency does its best to assist the low income, working poor, disabled and others. Contact them for information or referrals to food stamps, housing assistance (including rent help and deposits), home repairs, and clothing needs. There may be short term loans for paying for home improvements, including energy efficiency measures. They have information on a number of self-sufficiency resources in Yates and nearby Seneca New York.Continue community action Wayne and Seneca.

Emergency homeless shelters and temporary housing is available. Struggling families or the homeless can benefit from transitional housing programs, case management, and homeless prevention services. In some cases, meals, blankets, or free hygiene items may be passed out. Several Seneca County non-profits and charities offer these resources. More information on transitional housing in Finger Lakes area.

Interlaken Reformed Church Kitchen Cupboard – Distributes food from a pantry and clothing as well. 8315 Main Street, Interlaken, NY 14847, phone (607) 532-4321 for intake.

Wheels for Work can provide a car or transportation so someone can get to work. This allows people the ability to find or keep a job. A low interest loan is provided to clients. The program can also pay for costs such as auto repair vouchers, car insurance payments, and license and registration fees. Read more information on car repair programs.





Ovid Federated Church – Runs a food pantry for residents in Ovid. There may also be holiday meals, ingredients for meal preparation and other assistance. (607) 869-2794

Cayuga Seneca Community Action Agency is only for residents of that county. Most of the financial support is from referrals such as heating bill help from HEAP or rent assistance from Homeless Intervention and Case Management. They offer other support, such as free holiday assistance from Christmas Elf, weatherization services, case management from community centers, and more. Case workers also help people find jobs or increase their income, even from resources such as testing products for extra money.

CSCAA is for low income families in the region. As noted, only Seneca County families can apply. Even if not qualified, referrals may be given too. More on Community Action of Cayuga and Seneca County.

Seneca County House of Concern is located at 33-35 State Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148. Phone (315) 568-2433. Services available include SNAP application assistance for emergency food. A thrift store can distribute low cost clothing and furnishings. Qualified low income clients may receive free clothing 4 times per year, 10 items per client. A food pantry is also located here. Find more New York free  food pantries.

Solid Rock Wesleyan Food Bank – Call for meals and food. 17 Thurber Drive Waterloo, New York 13165.

Friendship House of Middlesex – Food bank is at 5614 Williams Street, Middlesex, NY 14507. Call (585) 554-6056 for intake.

Regional Primary Care Network may have some medical and dental care. There are also classes and workshops on getting medical bill help. Services are offered on a sliding fee scale. Resources are offered at the RPCN Rushville Community Health Center, 2 Rubin Drive, Rushville, New York 14544, phone (585) 554-4400. Or learn about assistance including get advice from the Alliance of Claims.

The location is a primary medical and dental care services for all ages. Specifically, apply for well-baby checkups, blood pressure screening, preventive medicine, and other regular care. Exams offered can include vision, immunizations, asthma/allergy care, gynecology, women's health, screening, and minor surgical procedures.

The networks also help with dental needs. This may include services such as free or low cost dental care includes exams, sealants, x-rays, prophylaxis, fillings, extractions, root canal therapy, crown or bridge, and dentures.

By Jon McNamara














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