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Erie County is continuing to accept applications from residents who might be eligible for help with their gas and electric bills during the current winter heating season.

Since opening day Nov. 18, county workers have conducted 749 in-person interviews with individuals who applied for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits.

An additional 335 applicants have taken advantage of the new online filing method available for the first time this year. The Department of Social Services received about 14,000 Early Outreach applications prior to Nov. 18.

“No family or individual should be forced to live in an unheated home during the winter months, and HEAP assistance is available to prevent that hardship,” said County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

About 95,000 households in Erie County received HEAP benefits last year. The HEAP season is shorter this year with the regular benefit component scheduled to close on Feb. 1. Applications for emergency HEAP benefits will be accepted from Jan. 2 through March 17.