LEAP provides gift of warmth to those in need

The holiday season can be a happy and joyous time filled with laughter and family. However, with the country officially in a recession, many Colorado families have less money to spend — not only on gifts — but also on basic living expenses such as utilities this year. The Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) can help.

“As a single parent and on disability, I don’t have much extra income to cover all of my bills. LEAP has been a Godsend for my family,” said Denver County LEAP recipient Patricia Hancock. “With the assistance I have received in covering my heating costs, I am now able to put together a nice Christmas dinner for my children and even afford a few Christmas gifts.”

LEAP 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 $3,269 per month before taxes for a household of four people. The anticipated average LEAP benefit for 2008-2009 is approximately $430 per family.

“We strive to help all qualifying families in need of extra help during these tough economic times and cold months,” Todd Jorgensen, LEAP director said. “Everyone should be able to enjoy their holiday celebrations in a warm home.”

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 applications to the program. Applicants must also be responsible for paying heating costs, either to a utility company, or to a landlord as part of rent.

Applications for LEAP are accepted anytime between Nov. 1 and April 30 of each year. For more information about LEAP, call (866) 432-8435 or visit www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap/index.htm to view the most current program application requirements.