Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) season officially begins this weekend.
Those who take part in the LEAP program through Archuleta County Department of Human Services (DHS) are reminded that there will be a few changes to the program this season, with the county using an outside company to administer the program.
At its June 17 meeting, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved to enter into a contract with Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado (based out of Colorado Springs) to administer the program in order to increase efficiency within the program. That contract went into effect Oct. 1.
Discover Goodwill has administered the LEAP program since 1996 through El Paso County and, in 2010, was recognized by the state as an emerging statewide leader, and is now considered a best practice for administering LEAP.
In June, Dodson said Discover Goodwill will provide the administration for the cost allotted by the state (minus funding allocated for outreach), which he said would be between $10,000 and $11,000. That amount will also include audits, supervision and overhead costs.
According to Discover Goodwill documents submitted to The SUN by Dodson, Discover Goodwill has reduced processing eligibility times by 95 percent since 2008.
Discover Goodwill will administer the program exclusively as a mail-in program, though Dodson noted at the meeting that the DHS office will continue to have the capacity to serve walk-in clients.
What is LEAP?
LEAP is a federally funded program that operates from Nov. 1 through April 30.
The program is designed to help eligible, low-income households with winter home heating costs, but is not intended to pay the entire cost of home heating.
To qualify for LEAP, the following eligibility requirements must be met:
• You must pay home heating costs to an energy provider, fuel dealer or as part of rent.
• You must be a permanent legal resident of the United States and Colorado or have household members that are U.S. citizens.
• You must provide proof of lawful presence in the U.S.
• Your household income must fall within the guidelines. “Household” refers to those who live in the residence and are financially dependent.
For more information on the LEAP program, visit cdhs.state.co.us.
How do I apply?
Those who were a part of the LEAP program last season (who did not move) should receive an application in the mail.
Applications can also be picked up after Nov. 1 at local utility offices, and can be downloaded online at cdhs.state.co.us.
You may also request an application packet by calling HEAT HELP at (866) 432-8435 or (888) 775-5327.
Once an application is received, LEAP has 50 days to approve or deny that application.
In emergency situations, such as where there is danger of the heating service being disconnected, that time is reduced to 14 days. Emergency applications are available for certain circumstances.
LEAP applications should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (719) 633-9098.
Discover Goodwill will administer the program exclusively as a mail-in program, though Dodson noted in June that the DHS office will continue to have the capacity to serve walk-in clients.