Blog Post

PCA Emergency Fund campaign underway

Helping with heat, other critical needs

Thousands of the city’s low-income elderly, most of whom live on fixed incomes, have to choose among food, heat or medicine – choices no one should have to make. The only way that some members of this vulnerable population will be able to heat their homes and stay warm this winter is through help from PCA’s Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians. PCA’s Emergency Fund campaign to help seniors this winter is underway. Every gift is meaningful. To donate, go to

The fund serves eligible low-income older Philadelphians 60-plus, who have exhausted all other sources of help. Most of its resources help pay for heat. The fund provides 100 gallons of oil or can help with up to $100 for a heating bill to avoid a heat shut-off. Other assistance helps with basic needs like food, rent/mortgage, prescriptions and medical supplies.

Among the city’s 290,800 seniors, 134,000 live in poverty, 77,000 live in homes that need repairs, 32,000 skipped a meal due to lack of money, and 29,000 did not fill a prescription due to cost, according to the 2015 Philadelphia Health Management Corporation household health survey.

A family’s story

Anna Brooks’(a pseudonym) case exemplifies the kind of help the Emergency Fund provides. Anna and her husband’s combined income is very low, making it difficult to pay their monthly bills. Their adult daughter, who lives with them, is unemployed and unable to assist them financially. Anna called her service coordinator at PCA’s Caregiver Support Program requesting help for the family with heat for the winter. The household had less than a quarter tank of oil and had depleted the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other crisis assistance funds. The cost to fill their oil tank was close to $200. The family was referred to the Emergency Fund, which paid for a tank of oil. Ann expressed how grateful she was for this assistance, which helped her family to stay warm.

Rising costs

Home heating oil costs have risen more than 40 percent in the past two years. Two years ago, the cost of home heating oil was $1.72 per gallon. Today the cost is $2.43 per gallon.  “During difficult economic times, even the slightest increase in costs has a drastic impact on seniors living on fixed incomes.” said Holly Lange, PCA president and CEO. “We rely on donors to ensure the Emergency Fund is there for these frail, older people in dire need of extra help.”

Last year, nearly $156,500 in Emergency Fund assistance was disbursed on behalf of 1,605 low-income senior households. Fifty-two percent of the expenditures went for fuel, including oil. The remaining 48 percent provided assistance for other critical needs.

Administration and support

PCA administers the fund on behalf of the Emergency Fund Coalition for Older Philadelphians, a community-based alliance of social service organizations and service providers. Referrals are accepted from recognized social service agencies and members of the clergy. Approved requests for assistance are fulfilled within 24 to 48 hours. Payments are made directly to the vendor.

The fund is supported by individual donations, as well as by corporations, foundations and proceeds from special events. Since its founding in 1979, it has assisted more 29,000 senior households and provided nearly $3.4 million in assistance.

Every gift counts

To donate: Go to Donations can also be marked “Emergency Fund” and mailed to PCA, 642 North Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. For information on corporate and foundation giving opportunities, contact Joan Zaremba, PCA director of marketing and development, at 215-765-9000, ext. 5051, or email