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By Aggie Berens
Special to The SUN
Winter has brought cold weather and has left many Coloradans struggling with the costs of heating their homes.
Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) offers help to eligible Coloradans by providing financial assistance with home heating bills. LEAP will accept applications through April 30, 2013.
LEAP is a federally-funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of 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 may not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index which is $2,882 per month before taxes for a household of four people. The average LEAP benefit is estimated to be $302 per household.
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.
This season approximately 78,580 Colorado families have applied for LEAP and the program has helped nearly 55,917 families cover heating costs, ensuring that thousands of Coloradans will remain warm throughout the winter.
All Coloradans who think they may qualify for LEAP are encouraged to call (866) 432-8435 or visit or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements.
LEAP applicants must provide a copy of valid identification and a completed affidavit indicating that they are lawfully present in the United States. 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 accepted as well. For more information on lawful presence requirements, contact the DOR or visit www.colorado.gov/revenue.
Completed LEAP applications can be faxed, mailed or delivered to the appropriate county office. Potential program applicants may obtain an application through the following:
• Call (866) 432-8435 to have an application mailed.
• Visit the county department of human services.
• Download and print an application from www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
LEAP eligible households may also qualify for the Crisis Invention Program [CIP] and Colorado’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, thereby permanently reducing heating costs.