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A Winter Lifeline for Low-Income Coloradans

December 28, 2010

DENVER - The crispness in the air, and in some parts of Colorado the snow on the ground, are the hallmarks of winter. But for an increasing number of Coloradans, the cold temperatures signal something else: unaffordable heating bills. The Denver Urban Ministries (DENUM) has seen its requests for energy assistance from low-income Coloradans double over this same time last year.

Jerry Baca is one of their clients. He owed his power company, Xcel Energy, for past-due services from four years ago, and even though he was making small payments, the company sent him a disconnect notice. So he turned to DENUM for help.

"They took care of everything! And man, I was just - I was overwhelmed. I really was. I was so grateful."

DENUM paid Baca's entire bill of $1300.

Tammy Mulligan, the executive director of DENUM, says that for many Coloradans just one event like an illness or a lost job can be the tipping point.

"People aren't able to catch up and keep up, is really what the problem is, so they get behind and then they're just not able to kind of get their way out of that."

Mulligan says that without heat or electricity, a family can lose their apartment because of public safety concerns.

People who need help, or who would like to help others in need, should call Energy Outreach Colorado toll-free at 1-866-HEAT-HELP or go to energyoutreach.org. They provide funding to assistance agencies across Colorado.


Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO