NewsLocal News

Actions

Colorado's energy assistance program sees record number of applicants

The surge is the latest in a series of spikes over the past several years following skyrocketing energy prices and incoming freezing temperatures.
cold temps
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 20:28:33-05

DENVER — Colorado's Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is reporting a record number of applications this year.

The surge is the latest in a series of spikes over the past several years following skyrocketing energy prices and incoming freezing temperatures.

Theresa Kullen, program manager for LEAP, said applications have increased by 10 percent in the last two years.

"Our numbers are up again this year. We were up about 12 percent," said Kullen.

Kullen said they've received more than 100,000 applications this year, despite the application window opening just two and a half months ago. With a spike in energy prices, the added costs are putting a strain on families.

Kullen has been working with the program for 20 years and said she's never seen numbers like this.

"This isn't weather that you can survive in without a furnace," said Kullen. "Furnace replacements can run over $5,000."

LEAP helps low to moderate-income Coloradans pay part of their winter heating bills over a six-month period. The benefit can range anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

Benefits differ depending on what an applicant's income is, what type of fuel is being used, energy prices, etc.

"People who are on fixed or low or moderate incomes really struggle when we reach these high winter heat bills, so something's got to give," said Kullen.

LEAP isn't the only program assisting Colorado residents in need. Denver's assistance program, DURA, is also helping homeowners with full home repairs.

DURA's EHR program offers zero percent (0%) interest on perpetually deferred loans of up to $10,000. Loan funds from the EHR Program can be used to make essential emergency home repairs such as roofing and gutters, heating, electrical, and plumbing. Some appliance replacements (hot water heater or furnace) are also offered through this program.

DURA Director Tracy Huggins said they helped 50 families last year and have room to grow.

"We have the resources to help more than 50, so we are looking forward to being able to surpass that number as we enter 2024," said Huggins.

While LEAP applications are open until April 30, DURA is open year-round.

Huggins said the assistance is “not just a loan program” and includes wrap-around services for those earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

Loan staff determine eligibility. Then, a rehabilitation team inspects the property and puts together a list of what work needs to be addressed. The work is then coordinated with the homeowner.

LEAP applicants must meet the following income requirements:

  • A household size of one equal to or less than $3,081 as the maximum monthly gross income
  • Or for a household size of four equal to or less than $5,926 as the maximum monthly gross income.

Applications can be submitted online or by mail. You can find out more through the LEAP website or by calling the LEAP hotline at 866-432-8435.

Colorado's energy assistance program sees record number of applicants


D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.