Emergency Needs

A visit for emergency assistance is often the first contact an individual or family has with Catholic Charities. The best way to be connected to our emergency assistance is by calling our Central Intake office at (716) 856-4494. However, for residents outside of Erie County (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties), we encourage you to call your local Catholic Charities office. Most assistance can be completed remotely, and alternate locations may be available if needed.
Staff members can handle a phone crisis and make a quick assessment. If the needed service is not something that can be handled in that office, the client is referred to the Department which handles the service, or to an appropriate community resource. The staff is acutely aware of services provided within the agency and the community at large, and knowledgeable about researching new resources.

When appropriate, Catholic Charities helps in emergencies with basic needs such as financial, food, prescription and heat.

Many families are facing multiple problems. Although one problem may be presented, generally financial in nature, the staff member must be able to assess other possible needs and problems of the family. Appointments for personal and family counseling are also assessed by the intake staff and referred to the appropriate satellite office or community resource.

Emergency Basic Needs Assistance Services

Emergency Food

Food aid is provided by referral to food pantries and dining sites, through on-site food items, or through other emergency food programs.

SNAP enrollment


Households can be screened for eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and can enroll or re-certify for benefits.





Neighbor-for-Neighbor Heat Fund: Applicant must meet one of the eligibility guidelines: age 55+, veteran, receiving unemployment or disability benefits, or have a medical condition made worse by the absence of heat. May apply once per heating season for up to $500 towards gas bill arrears. (ongoing when funds are available)

Care and Share: Must be a National Grid account holder and have already exhausted HEAP benefits. May receive up to $200 credit towards electric bill. May apply once per heating season. (Program available typically February – March each year. Closed when funds are exhausted)

Personal Care

Personal hygiene products are available on a limited basis for emergency need. 


Clothing is provided free by referral to Ladies of Charity thrift store, located at 1122 Broadway. Must have referral from Catholic Charities worker.

Household Items


Fresh Start packages are available by referral to individuals in need of small household items such as linens, cooking utensils and bedding. No furniture items are available.

Baby Items

Layette packages available by referral for new or expecting parents.



Individuals with serious medical conditions may be assisted on a one-time basis when all other resources have been exhausted.

Information and Advocacy


Referrals to services inside and outside Catholic Charities for needs such as: shelter, domestic violence, counseling, employment, housing, re-entry, legal services, substance use, parenting classes, healthcare, and furniture.

Other Assistance


If a catastrophic life event causes severe financial hardship, additional assistance may be available depending on availability of funds and a detailed eligibility assessment conducted by program staff.


Required documents to receive assistance:

Identification for all household members

  • Acceptable forms of ID include: Current driver’s license, non-license state ID, social security card, birth certificate, benefit card photo ID, military ID, or valid passport

Proof of all household monthly income

  • Most recent pay stubs for past 30 days, award letters for SSD/SSI, Social Security, unemployment, public assistance, child support or alimony payments, compensation or pension payments.

Proof of address

  • Utility bills with current address, paycheck stubs dated within four weeks, current bank statement with address

For Neighbor-for-Neighbor program:

  • Proof of all expenses from the past 30 days: rent/mortgage payments, car payments, loan payments, utility bills, phone and cable bills, food, clothing and other household expenses. Must have proof of at least 60% of expense-to-income ratio.

Depending on the type of assistance requested, workers may request further documentation of need.

Erie County main office - Downtown Buffalo
525 Washington St.,
Buffalo, NY 14203
(716) 856-4494
Hours: Weekdays 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Closed on major holidays.

*For all other counties, please contact your local Catholic Charities office.

For a PDF of services, locations and hours, please click here.