Recent data shows a rise in poverty in Colorado, but it doesn't reflect the worst of the current recession. Jennifer Gremmert, deputy director of Energy Outreach Colorado, also serves on the state Poverty Task Force. She says her organization, which serves low-income people, already is seeing more families in need of assistance with heating bills, even before the cold-weather season really has started.
“We're concerned, not knowing whether it's going to be colder or not, and with the economic uncertainty, how families are going to cope with their energy bills this winter.”
She's optimistic the federal government is going to continue providing funds for energy assistance, but Gremmert cautions that more people are looking for help, including many who are not used to asking for it.
“They are people who had given to their community; they never had needed to access emergency assistance before. But now someone in the household has lost their job.”
Gremmert advises people they have to gather a few documents before applying for assistance.
“Bring pay stubs to show proof of income and collect your utility payments data — at least have a copy of a past bill.”
Gremmert encourages anyone struggling with heating bills to call 866-HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.energyoutreach.org. She says some patience may be necessary, due to the increase in need, but help is available and Coloradans should not hesitate to apply.
— Colorado News Connection