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LEAP announces increase in benefit amount for Colorado families

Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), which provides financial assistance with home heating bills, has announced additional federal funding of $2 million, allowing the state to increase LEAP’s average benefit by nearly 15 percent.

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 through April 30, 2012.

“This season more than 100,000 Colorado families have applied for LEAP, and the program has helped more than 75,000 families cover heating costs, but there are thousands of additional Coloradans who are eligible for program benefits and have yet to apply,” said Todd Jorgensen, LEAP director. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone needing assistance knows help is available and where they can find it.”

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 (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 at (866) 432-8435 or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements.

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