LEAP raises benefit levels to help Coloradans keep warm


By Michele Worthington

Special to The PREVIEW

Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), which provides financial assistance with home heating bills, has announced an increase to 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 is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help hard-working families and individuals pay winter home heating costs.  This year the average benefit for people who qualify is expected to be $447 per household.

“LEAP’s increased benefit levels will allow peace of mind for Coloradans who need help staying warm this winter,” LEAP Manager Aggie Berens says. “With the recent increases in home heating costs, especially propane, we want to make sure that no Coloradans go cold because they can’t afford their heating bill.”

The program 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 Statutes regarding documentation of lawful presence. Valid forms of I.D. 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 I.D. 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. Applicants’ income cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index.

People interested in applying can call (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.

Applicants may fax the completed application to their appropriate county office or mail it to the county at the address available on the website.

People eligible for LEAP may also qualify for other benefits, like the Crisis Intervention Program, which helps repair or replace the home’s primary heating system; or the Weatherization Program, which improves energy efficiency in homes.

Colorado also offers a rebate of property tax, rent and heat expenses to low-income seniors and disabled persons. Known as the Property Tax/Rent/Heat Credit (PTC) rebate, the maximum property tax rebate is $660 and the maximum heat expenses rebate is $192. The Colorado Department of Revenue administers the rebate.

Please visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/satellite/revenue/revx/1216116072809 for more information and the rebate application booklet.