Cutbacks to Heating Assistance for Low-Income Coloradans
Fewer low-income families in Colorado will qualify for help with their heating bills this winter. Uncertainty over the program’s federal funding is forcing the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program to cut back on its clients.
Last year, Colorado received roughly $62 million in federal funds for LEAP. But that could be cut by up to 50 percent this year, depending on which of three versions of the federal budget gets adopted. Given the uncertainty, the agency had to make difficult changes to the eligibility requirements.
“Our maximum income threshold is now 150% of federal poverty level. It used to be at 185%,” says Todd Jorgensen, who directs Colorado’s LEAP program. “So that affects about 17,000 households statewide who were eligible last year that would not be eligible this year under the new criteria.”
Jorgensen says the new requirements will help ensure that LEAP benefits will be reserved for households most in need. Under the new criteria, a family of four making more than $33,500 would not qualify for help. Last year nearly 150,000 households applied for assistance. Jorgensen expects that number to increase this year.
Heat Helpline 1-866-432-8435 (1-866-HEAT-HELP)