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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A luncheon was held on Tuesday morning to help raise awareness about Pennsylvania’s low-income heating assistance program, or LIHEAP.

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Representatives from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and former Steelers player Franco Harris spoke with a group of veterans about the importance of spreading the word about the program.

LIHEAP helps about 500,000 families across the state every winter. They include families who have fallen on hard times, as well as older neighbors who are struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income.

“The furnaces are kicking in right now, and what that means is gas bills are going to be going up for folks,” says Fitzgerald.

The program also offers cash grants to help people who are facing a heating crisis – things like a broken furnace, or a lack of fuel. There are income requirements, but program supporters don’t want people to shy away from applying for assistance.

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“Money is available to help people, low-income people, with their heating bills,” says Harris. “I know that this is the time of year when it’s not very cold. People are not thinking about it, about heating bills and winter. But you know, this is the time of year to start thinking about [signing] up.”

Harris also said that sometimes, people are too proud to apply for assistance.

“All of us need help at times, every one of us,” he said. “We need everybody to get involved, to get the word out.”

The LIHEAP application is available online. You can find it on Columbia Gas’ website here.

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You can also dial 211 for more information.