"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Fewer Pennsylvanians will enter this winter season without heat or using a potentially unsafe heating source compared to prior years, according to an annual report, but that number is still too high, advocates say.

According to a recent survey by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, more than 18,500 households throughout the state have entered winter without heat or are using an unsafe heating source.

The figure is four percent lower than last year and a staggering 16 percent below 2016s numbers, but it is still too high, according to utility assistance experts. Speaking to the Pittsburgh Gazette, the director of Pennsylvania's Utility Law Project, Patrick Cicero, said, “In my view, these numbers are a clear indication that additional support is needed to address the gap in universal utility services to the state’s most vulnerable individuals. His statewide organization helps low-income utility consumers. “No household should enter winter without heat or a safe source of heat. The fact that thousands of our fellow Pennsylvanians are forced to do so is both shameful and completely preventable,” he added.

With the coldest months of winter still ahead, it's critical that families without adequate or safe heat have access to option to help them to have a safe and warm winter. Catholic Charities provides heating and utility assistance in the eight-county area thanks to donor support. For income-eligible households, Catholic Charities can also help families enroll in and access utility company Customer Assistance Programs (CAP). Our Emergency Financial Assistance program works together with other health and human service agencies throughout our eight-county region to respond to disasters and other local needs as they arise.

This help is especially needed for seniors, children and individuals with chronic illness who are most vulnerable to a lack of heat. You can help us continue to lower these statistics by making a gift to Catholic Charities this winter. If you know someone who needs heating assistance, contact our website, or call (814) 535-6538.