Heating bill assistance still available

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If winter has taken a toll on your bank account, there's still time to apply for help.

The Low-income Energy Assistance Program, a federal program administered through the Moffat County Department of Social Services, will accept aid applications through April 30.

Last year, 477 families in Moffat County took advantage of the program. The Social Services office reports that 397 users had qualified through January of this year.

"We encourage people of any income level to apply, even if you think you don't qualify," said Laura Willems of the county Department of Social Services. "In January, we had four more people apply than last year."

Families that qualify can receive a one-time payment from the government for as much as $800 to assist with their energy bills between the months of November and April. Checks are made out to either the applicant or the energy supplier, and proof of income, a copy of a heating bill, and a rental agreement are needed during the application process.

"Don't wait until they are shutting off your heat," Willems said. "Apply early before you get into trouble."

She also noted that because of a recent increase in funding made available for the program, people who already have received energy assistance this year might see an additional check before this winter ends. Amounts given to families vary by income levels and the cost of heating your home.

To qualify, applicants must be U.S. citizens and residents of Colorado and pay the heating costs in their residence.

Those whose household includes two people and the combined monthly income is less than $1,978, or three people with an income less than $2,481 may qualify for assistance. Call Social Services for questions regarding larger family numbers.

An application may take as long as 50 days to process, and Willems stressed that it's not too late to apply in March.

She said people can go to the Social Services office at 595 Breeze St. to apply. Applications also are available by calling a toll-free number, 1-866-432-8435, or by visiting www.cdhs.state.co.us.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or at dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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