Rocky Mountain News, November 2, 2007: Looking to LEAP for relief

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By Lisa Ryckman, Rocky Mountain News

Alejandra Segura came to the Denver Human Services office with a shut-off notice in hand to apply for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. With a family of five, the 21-year-old Denver resident needed LEAP’s help.

She isn’t alone.

Last year, the program helped 12,453 Denver residents pay their heating costs or get their gas and electricity turned on again, with an average benefit of $370.

“This is the first time I’ve applied,” Segura said. “My husband works really good during the summer, and there’s no problem. He does construction, and he was working 12- or 13-hour shifts.

“But when winter comes in, his hours go down. He works, but it’s not 40-plus hours a week anymore, and that’s when we got behind.

“I live in a house. Last year, it cost $350 a month for heat and gas. I called and put down as much as I could for the payment, but they said they wanted the whole amount. So they disconnected me.

“I had to do something fast because my bedroom gets very cold. They said, go to LEAP, and they’ll help you get the power turned back on, and they’ll help you during the winter.

“I was kind of embarrassed to say they shut me off. But once I came here, I saw it’s a lot of people that need help. It’s a lot of people – not just me.”

All about LEAP

LEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services designed to help with winter heating costs from Nov. 1 through April 30. Applications can be submitted any time during that period.

You may qualify for LEAP assistance if:

• You are a U.S. citizen or a legal resident of Colorado

• You pay heating costs directly to an energy provider or you pay the cost of heating your home through your rent.

• Your maximum family household gross income is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level, which would be $3,184 a month for a family of four.

To get an application, call the HEAT HELP line at 1-866-432-8435 and ask for an application packet, or download a copy of the application at apply.htm.

You also can apply in person at Denver Human Services East Office, 2855 Tremont St., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What you need to apply:

• Valid identification, such as a driver’s license, state ID or passport

• Social Security numbers for all household members

• Proof of citizenship

• Proof of income

• Utility bill or shut-off notice

Applications are accepted and processed by county departments of social service LEAP offices. You may mail your application, fax it or bring it in person to your county LEAP office. If you need a Spanish LEAP application, call the HEAT HELP line at 1-866-432-8435.

Copyright 2007, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

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