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Getting help to pay high heating costs

Published On: Jan 06 2014 05:44:56 PM CST

High heating costs can cause a strain on the wallet, especially for people who are struggling financially.

Colorado Springs, COLO -

When temperatures dip so low, the remedy for many is simply to turn up the heat.

But for some that's a luxury that they can't afford.

Michelle Milner has heard the stories of people that are struggling with their bills as the Director of the Pikes Peak United Way's 2-1-1 program.

"We got a call from a young mother, a single mother with three children, who had to send her children out of state because her utilities got disconnected," she said.

It's winter in Colorado and there is snow on the ground.  That means that the heat will be running, which spells trouble for some people.

Milner said, "they find it difficult to make ends meet."

The choice between heat or food and medicine doesn't have to be made.  If you need help, you can call the United Way.  With the cold weather, many people have been doing just that.

"We took a record 305 calls on Monday December 23rd," said Milner.

The United Way sets those callers up with programs that can help them pay their utility bill.

Milner said, "we work with 10 COPE agencies."

COPE stands for Citizens Option to Provide Electricity.  It's one of two programs that help with utility bills.  The other one is known as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program - or LEAP for short.

"LEAP is based on your family income, your household income," said Patrice Lehermeier of Colorado Springs Utilities.

Both can help people who can't pay their bill for whatever reason.  But both programs rely on one thing to work - timely action.

"Don't be afraid to call us if you're having trouble with your bill or if something has come up," said Lehermeier.

So that the heat doesn't have to go off when it gets cold outside.

Milner says that the United Way has other programs that it helps to help people who are struggling, such as rent assistance and food pantries.


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