State LEAP gets $8.1M

Moffat County program enrollment down from last year

Requirements

To receive benefits, a family may not earn more than 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline each month. That translates to:

• for a household of one - $1,574

• for a household of two - $2,111

• for a household of three - $2,647

• for a household of four - $3,184

— Those looking for help with heating costs are encouraged to apply to the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program at Moffat County Social Services.

The federal government awarded the Colorado Department of Human Services an additional $8.1 million this month for the program.

A household qualifies for LEAP if it falls within 185 percent of the federal poverty index, which takes into account family size.

For a family of four, the total monthly income cannot exceed $3,184. For a family of three, the monthly income limit is $2,647.

LEAP supplements heating costs from Nov. 1 to April 30.

The Colorado Crisis Intervention Program uses LEAP funds to assist with the repair or replacement of a home's primary heating system and for its Weatherization Program, which makes homes more energy efficient.

The additional funds "had been part of an ongoing federal issue," said Liz McDonough, Human Services spokeswoman. "An increase in basic appropriations was sought nationally."

LEAP is a federal program, and Colorado received $8.1 million of the total appropriation, McDonough said.

"During these freezing winter days, everyone should have the heat they need to stay warm in their home," LEAP Director Scott Barnette said in a press release. "We know there are over 200,000 people in our state that meet our income requirements, so the need is out there and this increase in funding ensures that all eligible Coloradans can receive the gift of warmth."

About 43,700 Colorado households received LEAP payments this year, according to the press release.

Locally, about 250 Moffat County households applied for LEAP this year, said Laura Willems, Moffat County Social Services self-sufficiency manager.

This year's number of applicants is down about 12 percent from last year, Willems said, and there could be a lot of reasons for that, including heating costs.

"LEAP does fluctuate a lot based on economy and heating costs," she said. "Last year, (heating costs) did jump up around November, and this year, we haven't seen that."

Although LEAP is more than two months in, Willems said those who qualify should "absolutely" apply.

"Anytime in that program period (from November to April), it helps pay for heating," she said. "LEAP is not designed to pay the entire cost."

Anyone looking for more information or a LEAP application can call Social Services at 824-8282, or visit its office at 595 Breeze St.

They also can call LEAP's toll-free number at 866-HEAT-HELP or print an application from www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap/apply/htm.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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