PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A brick on a gas stove, the burner on high.

This is heat in a Polish Hill apartment with no working furnace.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin: “So, explain to me the brick. How does it work?”

Mary: “The brick keeps it nice and warm.”

Mary, who is mentally handicapped, lives in the third-floor rented apartment with her 91-year-old mother. They don’t wish to be identified.

When it rains, water pours in through the ceiling. The heating unit has been red tagged, ordered dangerous and shut down. For now, the brick will have to do.

Griffin: “Are you concerned about staying warm?”

Mary: “Yes we are.”

Griffin: “Are you concerned that you could be in danger?”

Mary: “Yes.”

Griffin: “Why?”

Mary: “Cause it might catch on fire.”

In this community, with temperatures headed into the dangerous cold range, experts say this is not unusual.

“About 4,000 people don’t have central utility service,” said Chad Quinn, of the Dollar Energy Fund.

The Dollar Energy Fund is a non-profit that offers a one-time emergency payment of up to $500 for folks behind on their utilities.

“These folks sometimes resort to unsafe methods, or they’ll just really cut back and conserve and do what they can to keep warm,” said Quinn.

It was just last week that KDKA found a home in McKees Rocks, an 85-year-old woman living in a dilapidated home with no furnace.

Since then, folks have donated a furnace and a roof and others did some inside construction.

Utility companies, after Dec. 1, have to go to the Public Utility Commission to get your utilities shut off. Also, utilities will not shut you off on a Friday for a number of different reasons.

If you get a termination notice, you have two weeks to either reach out for help or get your bill taken care of.

Locals Help Elderly Woman Living In Crumbling House, Without Heat (12/25/13)
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