Tue November 1, 2011

Applications Open for Low-income Energy Assistance Program

Just as the state braces for another blast of winter weather this week, low-income Coloradans can begin applying for assistance with their home heating bills Tuesday.  But with tougher eligibility requirements this year – many will be left in the cold.

Colorado’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program has helped thousands of residents over the years; but this year the standards have changed to ensure that benefits go only to the neediest households.

LEAP program director Todd Jorgensen says that, like last year, they won’t know how much federal funding they’ll receive until there’s a deal on the budget.

“It makes planning a little bit difficult, but we do have to commit to certain decisions at the beginning of the season, based on what we know at the time. So the department had to make a very difficult decision to make that change to our eligibility.”

Under the new guidelines, a family of four must earn less than $2,800 per month – or 150% of the federal poverty level. Previously that amount was $3,400.

Jorgensen says roughly 17,000 Colorado households that were eligible last year won’t qualify for benefits this year. The program runs from November 1 through April 30.

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