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LEAP receives additional funds to assist with winter heating bills

Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), which provides financial assistance with home heating bills, has received increased funding for the 2009-2010 winter season. This increase means that more money is available to assist hard working Colorado families with their heating bills this winter. LEAP will begin accepting applications on November 2 and will continue to do so until April 30, 2010.

According to Todd Jorgensen, director of LEAP, additional federal funding has increased LEAP’s total budget for assistance this winter to $70 million. The minimum benefit a household could receive is $350 and the maximum is $900.

LEAP is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay winter home heating costs. The program pays the highest benefits to those with the highest heating bills and lowest incomes by family size. Applicant income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $3,400.00 per month before taxes for a household of four people.

“Due to the struggling economy, many Colorado families may need assistance with their heating bills this year,” said Jorgensen. “When personal finances are tight, heating a home can be costly and difficult.”

According to Jorgensen, LEAP saw a 15-percent increase in applications last year. During the 2008-2009 season, 105,735 Colorado households received LEAP payment assistance with an average benefit amount of $581.17.

LEAP-eligible households may also qualify for the Crisis Invention Program [CIP] and the Governor’s Energy Office’s Weatherization Program. The CIP operates year-round and provides assistance with a home’s primary heating source, such as a furnace or wood-burning stove. The Weatherization Program improves the energy efficiency in homes throughout Colorado, permanently reducing heating costs.

To qualify for LEAP, applicants must be responsible for paying heating costs directly to an energy provider, fuel dealer or as part of rent; be a permanent legal resident of the United States and Colorado or have household members that are U.S. citizens.

LEAP applicants must provide a copy of valid identification and a completed affidavit indicating that they are lawfully present in the United States with their program applications. Valid forms of identification include, but are not limited to:

1. Colorado Driver’s License or Colorado Identification card; or

2. United States Military Identification Card or Military Dependent’s Identification card; or

3. United States Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card; or

4. Native American Tribal document.

As defined by the Colorado Department of Revenue, other forms of identification may be required as well. For more information on lawful presence requirements, contact the DOR or visit their Web site located at www.revenue.state.co.us/main/home.asp.

LEAP applications may be faxed, mailed or dropped off at the appropriate county office at the number or address available on the LEAP Web site.

Applications can be found:

1. By calling (866) 432-8435 to order a mailed application.

2. By downloading from the program’s Web site at www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap.

3. At every county department of social/human services office. (A full list of county offices is available at www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap/offices.htm.)

4. At most utility offices.

5. At many community agencies like Catholic Charities.

For more information about LEAP, call (866) 432-8435 or visit www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap to view the most current program application requirements.