Emergency fund for seniors at crisis point

    Philadelphia Corporation for Aging fears the fund, $100,000 lower than a year ago, may run out of money completely.

    The Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians, which provides crisis assistance to help low-income senior citizens buy food, fuel, medications and other necessities, is having a crisis of its own.

    The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging runs the emergency fund. Chris Gallagher, director of PCA’s helpline call center, says the agency has $22,000 going into the winter. That’s $100,000 less than a year ago, and Gallagher says the fund could be shut down.

    Gallagher, who calls the situation “desperate,” says only once before has the emergency fund shut down. “That was in April of 2005,” says Gallagher. “That was due in the increase of oil. That year, the average price of oil went from a dollar to $1.87, which forced us to run out of money totally.”

    Gallagher says referrals are up and donations are down because of the tough economy. He is worried the emergency fund won’t be able to help those in need when the weather turns cold.

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