Energy assistance still available

If winter heating costs look to chill your wallet, qualifying families over the next three months can still apply to a program designed to help get energy bills paid.

The state's LEAP program, administered locally through Moffat County Social Services, remains open to applicants through April 30.

Qualifying applicants must be legal U.S. and Colorado residents who pay home heating costs to either energy providers, fuel dealers or as part of monthly rent.

"If a person is with a (energy) vendor, then we make payment directly to the vendor," said Laura Williams, who directs the program with Moffat County Social Services.

Payments can be split into two installments, or a one-time offering, depending on when applications are received, Williams said.

The program's success locally is evidenced by the high number of repeat applicants, said Williams.

Williams said 329 applicants currently draw LEAP funds in Moffat County, which is up from 301 the previous year. The county took 268 applications in 2000.

The state does not limit the number of applicants in a given year, she added..

To get the help, household sizes must fall within monthly income guidelines, ranging between $1,371 and $4,214 for households with one to seven individuals, respectively.

When determining actual heat costs covered, income figures are factored with the prior six-month heating history of applicants' homes or apartments, Williams said.

Participation in other state or federal assistance programs, such as Medicare, Food Stamps, or Social Security income, does not impact residents' eligibility to receive LEAP funds.

LEAP recipients may also qualify for various emergency services such as furnace repair, gas leaks or replacement of broken windows.

As a separate program, residents would still need to complete applications for the Crisis Intervention Program before any work is done, according information provided by Moffat County Social Services.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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