Help from LEAP is still available

RBC I Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) has already helped nearly 90,000 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 and its newly increased benefit amount before the April 30, 2012 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 $2,794 per month for a household of four people. LEAP began accepting applications on Nov. 1, 2011 and will continue to accept applications thru April 30, 2012.
In February, LEAP announced that the availability of additional federal funds would allow the state to increase LEAP’s average benefit by nearly 15 percent.  According to Todd Jorgensen, LEAP director, the average payment will increase to $344 per family from $300.
“We want Colorado families to know that LEAP has increased funds available and time left in the LEAP season for people to apply for the program,” said Jorgensen.
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. 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 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 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to have an application mailed, visit any county department of social/human services across the state. To locate your county’s office, visit the program’s website at www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap. Download and print an application from www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
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, thereby permanently reducing heating costs.
To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call toll free 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements. To help those in need or learn about additional assistance resources, visit www.EnergyOut-reach.org.