Spending for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program in Otero County remained steady in January, reported Department of Human Services Director Donna Rohde at Monday's Board of County Commissioners meeting. The LEAP program helps qualifying households with their home heating bills during the winter season.

"We have spent $271,135.69 as opposed to $270,000 last year," said Rohde.

The average amount spent per home so far this year is $248. In 2018, the average was $258, according to Rohde. In January, DHS provided LEAP clients with $4,737.41 in assistance.

The last day residents may file a LEAP application for this season is April 30.

Colorado LEAP assistance is available Nov. 1 through April 30 each year, and applicants can apply any time within that window, including the date of the deadline.

Rohde said DHS can help residents fill out their applications. Eligibility is determined by income level and family size.

"The interesting thing about LEAP that does help a lot of folks is there is no resource (guideline)," said Rohde. "With a lot of our other programs, you have a certain income guideline, but then you also have a resource guideline. With this it's only income, so if you have a lot of resources but not a lot of income, you can still qualify for LEAP."

Commissioner Keith Goodwin said he'd expected the spending amount to be larger.

"It's nice to see that it's about the same," said Goodwin. "We thought that it would be larger, but there's plenty of opportunity to be larger."

Goodwin encouraged anyone who could use LEAP assistance to reach out to DHS.