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LEAP Benefits to Start November 1

In 2014, winter begins on December 21, 4:03 pm, Mountain Standard Time. But many of us will turn on that furnace long before then. The high costs of heating are a problem for many people each year. Utility companies issue shut off notices, emergency assistance agencies struggle to find enough resources to help, and families often go “without” just to keep warm. The slogan “To Eat or To Heat” is a reality for many older adults and families.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is designed to help low income households with paying for winter home heating costs. It will not pay the total cost.

The amount of the LEAP payment is dependent on the amount of federal funds received by the State of Colorado. The formula for determining Colorado’s grant is dependent on the price of fuel in 2013-14, the amount of fuel used in the previous year and other factors. Thus if we have a mild winter, the amount of LEAP funds received by the Colorado is less than years when we have really cold weather.

Individuals may qualify for LEAP if they meet all of the following requirements: a) pay home heating costs to an energy provider, fuel dealer or as part of the rent; b) they are a permanent legal resident or a US citizen; c) have proof of lawful presence in the US; and d) the maximum family household income falls below $1459 for a single person or ($1967) for a couple.

To qualify for LEAP, individuals must complete the application form, submit proof of all income and identity, and a recent heating bill or rent receipt (if heat is included in the rent showing the cost of heat). Individuals must sign an affidavit indicating they are legal residents of the US. LEAP will pay for heating costs only (gas, electric, wood).

If you are facing an emergency, such as a pending shut-off of your utilities, submit or fax to the LEAP office a copy of the past month of income, along with your utility shut off notice with a cover letter noting that it is an emergency. Your application can be processed within 10 business days.

Utility companies in Colorado are not allowed to shut off utilities for a period of 90 days with a medical certificate signed by a licensed physician or health practitioner. This certification can be used once year.

LEAP applications will be sent by the energy provider to households that have received assistance in the past. New applicants can request a copy of the LEAP form by calling the county department of human services LEAP office or 303-333-3482.

In addition, to LEAP benefits many households qualify for help through the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP). The CIP Program operates year-round and is primarily intended to assist LEAP eligible households with the repair or replacement of the home’s primary heating system such as a furnace.

Another program that is available to LEAP households is weatherization, a program to make homes more energy efficient. These cost-effective improvements and upgrades will reduce energy usage, save money, and improve the overall comfort of the home year-round.

Weatherization improvements may include: an energy audit; compact fluorescent light bulb retrofits; air sealing; insulation in attic, floor, and walls; furnace safety testing; furnace repair or replacement; refrigerator replacement; storm windows and doors; energy conservation information. These repairs can be made year-round to private homes or to some rentals including duplexes and fourplexes, as well as manufactured homes. Local agencies provide these services. To see if you qualify for these services and to find a provider in your area, call 303-866-2084.

Last, individuals who qualify for LEAP, may also qualify for the property tax/rent/heat rebate. Individuals whose monthly income in 2012 from all sources (including the Medicare Part B premium) is less than $1026/month ($1350/month for a couple) can qualify for the state rebate until December 31, 2014. Individuals whose income in 2013 was less than $1053/month ($1394/month for couples) can call 1-800-659-3656 for forms before December 31, 2015. Rebates for 2014 will be available after January 1, 2015. Some municipalities, such as Denver, offer residents additional rebates.

For more applications or information about any of these programs, call 303-333-3482.