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By Michele Worthington
Special to the SUN
Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) has already helped nearly 78,000 Coloradans pay their heating bills this winter, but there are still hard working families eligible for the program who have yet to apply. LEAP encourages those in need of financial assistance with home heating bills to take advantage of the program before the April 30 deadline.
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 cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $2,944 per month for a household of four people.
“We want Colorado families to know that LEAP has funds available and there is still time to apply for the program,” said Aggie Berens, LEAP manager. “We have also raised both the minimum and maximum benefit levels for residents who qualify. Program beneficiaries will now receive at least $300 to help defray home heating costs, and the maximum benefit has been raised to $1,300.”
LEAP has several eligibility requirements. Applicants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal aliens. They also need to provide a copy of a valid identification and a completed affidavit to comply with Colorado Revised Statues regarding documentation of lawful presence. Valid forms of identification include a Colorado driver’s license or I.D. card; a U.S. Military I.D. card or Military Dependent’s I.D. card; a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card; or a Native American Tribal document. Other forms of identification may be accepted as well. Applicants also must be responsible for paying heating costs either directly to a utility company or to a landlord as part of rent.
People interested in applying can call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to order a mailed application. Alternatively, applications are available at every county department of social or human services, most utility companies, and many community agencies. Applications also can be downloaded from www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.