Application process begins soon in Craig for assistance program | CraigDailyPress.com
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Application process begins soon in Craig for assistance program

Brian Smith
Craig resident Frank Baron, a service technician for Masterworks Mechanical, works on a heating system Thursday at a residence on Yampa Avenue. Starting Monday, the Moffat County Department of Social Services will be accepting applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The program, also called LEAP, is a federally funded program designed to help low-income residents pay a portion of their heating bills.
Brian Smith

How to apply

• The Moffat County Department of Social Services will be processing applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program starting Monday. Applications will be available online at http://www.cdhs.state.co..., or applicants can request one by calling 1-866-432-8435.

• Applicants are required to submit a copy of their most recent heating bill or a rent receipt, proof of income for the current or previous month, and a copy of their current picture ID.

How to apply

• The Moffat County Department of Social Services will be processing applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program starting Monday. Applications will be available online at http://www.cdhs.state.co…, or applicants can request one by calling 1-866-432-8435.

• Applicants are required to submit a copy of their most recent heating bill or a rent receipt, proof of income for the current or previous month, and a copy of their current picture ID.

Marie Peer, director of the Moffat County Department of Social Services, said no home should go without heat.



“We found they would have their heat turned off for part of the day,” Peer said of low-income residents of Moffat County. “They would be wearing sweaters and doing everything they could to stay warm. That is just horrific when people are not warm enough and their pipes freeze and they get sick.”

Peer said her department has a solution for those residents who cannot afford, or are struggling to pay, their heating bill this winter.

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Starting Monday, social services will be accepting applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

The program, also called LEAP, is a federally funded program designed to help low-income residents pay a portion of their heating bills. For most households, LEAP benefits will be paid to the utility company or fuel supplier.

“This program really got going when the cost of energy really went up,” Peer said. “The cost of fuel oil and all kinds of energy started going up, higher and higher.”

The department approved 390 Moffat County households for LEAP last year, totaling $253,973. In 2008, 325 households were approved totaling $197,664.

Although the number of homes approved for the program has fluctuated throughout the last decade, the amount of assistance provided has increased from $115,018 in 2002.

Peer said the number of households assisted may appear low, but the number of people served and the impact of the assistance are different matters.

“If you look at our population, which is right around 13,000, and you look at 300 house holds, and the average probably is two-, three-plus people per household, that would be right around 1,000 people,” she said. “So, that is not quite 10 percent of the population, but it is a significant number of people.”

Peer expects the department to serve “well over” the 390 households approved last year.

“I’m not sure if that is good news or bad news,” she said. “It could be that more people are not doing as well, or it could be that more people are reaching out and getting help before they are in a really huge crisis situation.”

Moreover, Peer said the department has been seeing more people applying for social services benefits.

“I hope that is true with LEAP, too,” she said. “(I hope) that people look at this as an opportunity to stretch their income and provide … for their family and sort of as a support for them to continue to be self-sufficient and to continue to thrive and do well despite the economy.”

However, Peer said a stigma still exists in the area with applying for benefits.

“People have a certain amount of pride, and they don’t want to apply for certain types of help,” she said. “But, sometimes that is really misplaced.”

Peer had a message for those who might be hesitant about applying for benefits like LEAP.

“They are contributing a lot to society,” she said. “They are giving a lot to the community, and being able to apply for LEAP and getting some kind of help and support would be the community’s way of giving back to them.

“We are all kind of in this together.”

To be eligible for benefits, households must pay heating costs directly or as part of their rent. Household income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The maximum monthly income is $1,670 for a household of one, $2,246 for a household of two, and $2,823 for a household of three.

Resources such as bank accounts, property and vehicles are not considered. Applicants must meet and provide documentation for citizenship/alien status and state residency requirements.

Beginning Monday, applications will be available online at http://www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap/index.htm, or residents can call 1-866-432-8435 to request an application.


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