Help is a phone call away | AspenTimes.com

Help is a phone call away

Dear Editor:

Beginning this time of year, as many as 1 in 5 Colorado households struggle to keep up with home energy bills. Too many seniors on fixed incomes and families with children must seriously weigh such dismal choices as keeping the heat on or doing without food or medical care.

Fortunately, help is available to keep these people warm and safe and in their homes. The Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), a federally funded program administered through the Colorado Department of Human Services, provides energy bill payment assistance to income-qualifying households. LEAP also offers a crisis intervention program to help eligible households needing a repair or replacement of their home heating system.

Another valuable resource is Energy Outreach Colorado, a private, nonprofit organization that raises funds for energy assistance through individual and corporate donors. This year, Energy Outreach is distributing $6.7 million in energy assistance grants to 131 community assistance organizations across the state, including Seniors Resources Center, Salvation Army and Home Front Cares. Energy Outreach was established in 1989 to supplement LEAP funding and provide warmth and security to those who may not qualify for LEAP or need additional assistance. Since then it has distributed nearly $123 million to fund energy bill payment assistance and energy efficiency upgrades for affordable housing in Colorado.

I strongly encourage anyone struggling to pay home energy bills to apply for help today by calling toll-free 1-866-HEAT-HELP or by going to http://www.energyoutreach.org/locator.asp. Concerned citizens interested in helping those who can’t afford home energy can make a donation through those sites or by calling Energy Outreach at 303-825-8750.

Skip Arnold

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executive director, Energy Outreach Colorado