Turning up the heat

Social Services helps low-income families pay heating bills

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Requirements

To receive benefits, a family may not earn more than 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Under those requirements, the maximum monthly income for a household of one is $1,574, a household of two is $2,111 and a household of three is $2,647 per month.

— Worried about the winter cold?

Concerned about rising fuel prices and seasonal heating costs?

Moffat County Social Services is taking applications for its Low Income Energy Assistance Program beginning Nov. 1.

The statewide program pays a partial amount for a home's heating costs from Nov. 1 to April 30. People interested may apply anytime within those six months; however, the program will not cover heating bills after the end of April.

LEAP is another way Social Services is able to help the community, said Laura Willems, Social Services self sufficiency manager.

"It's a very useful program for families barely able to make ends meet and for those that struggle sometimes," Willems said.

LEAP pays one or two lump sums for the entire program season. Atmos Gas, which services the Yampa Valley, is a contracted program provider with the state, which means LEAP payments go directly to the utility company.

With the way fuel prices have risen in the past year, costs could be higher when fall ends, Willems said.

"Often times we do see an increase" at wintertime, Willems said. "And with fuel prices going up the way they are - all those fuel prices are related - generally with those fuel prices going up we do see an increase" in heating costs.

The program is the same across Colorado, and Moffat County is no stranger to low temperatures, Willems said.

"Sometimes it can get really cold, yes," she said.

Heating costs vary with each home depending on how the residence is insulated and other factors. The amount LEAP contributes to a heating bill varies depending on family size, whether the family lives in a house or apartment, whether the heat is electric or gas and the family's income.

About 300 Moffat County families use the program each year, Willems said.

LEAP applicants aren't limited to families already participating in other Social Services programs, though those families receive automatic mailings to apply.

"This one is a little more expansive (within the community) than our other programs," Willems said.

Beginning Nov. 1, anyone wishing to apply can print a LEAP application from www.cdhs.state.co.us by clicking on the "LEAP" link under the State Search section.

Applications must be submitted in person to Moffat County Social Services, 595 Breeze St., with a copy of the most recent heating bill or rental receipt and proof of income for the current or most recent month.

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