Less Funding Under LEAP

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Ann Miller is a senior doing what she can on a fixed income... dealing with challenges like how she'll make ends meet.

Every November Ann applies for help through a federal program called LEAP which helps disadvantaged families pay their heating bills.

Ann says, "LEAP saved my life and kept me going, kept my oxygen on and kept me warm."

But now a 35% cut in funds means fewer people will get financial assistance.

Under the old guidelines a family of four bringing in less than $3,500 a month would qualify.
Now it's only for families earning less than $2,800.

The Pikes Peak United Way says it's bracing for a flood of calls since utiliity help is the #1 reason most people dial their free hotline.

They're working with several non-profits hoping to pick up the slack.

Colorado Springs Utilities has a program called Project Cope. It's anticipating $1 million will help 4 thousand families this year.
The Home Front Cares helps families of deployed soldiers and Westside Cares also provides much needed funds.

Sometimes the problem is more of a permanent one. Just ask Bernice Lowry.

She needed a new furnace and got one free from the Energy Resource Center.

This year the agency plans to help more than 800 families in five counties, giving them new furnaces, hot water heaters, refrigerators and even helping insulate and weatherize their homes.

Bernice describes it this way. "Like it was Christmas all year. No, it was great. I so appreciate it."

Bottom line, if you need help apply for LEAP starting November first. Even if you're denied call the United Way's 211 hotline.
And if you've got a few spare bucks donate them in your monthly utility bill. Colorado Springs Utilities matches customer donations up to half a million dollars.

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