Money certainly does not grow on trees — and as Denver’s population rises and rent cost increases, some find themselves wishing it did. Fortunately for families in a financial pinch the City and County of Denver has put into motion a program aimed at helping those in need of energy and utility payment assistance.
It’s called TRUA, short for Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance — and its goal is to ensure that Denver dwellers can remain in their homes by providing temporary relief for people struggling to pay their energy bill. Heat and water are life essentials, especially as winter settles into our city. Those unable to find the funds necessary to keep their power on could face freezing nights, the inability to cook a hot meal and even eviction. By offering up to six months of rental assistance and up to $1,000 in utility aid Denver leaders hope to keep citizens warm and in their homes — which isn’t always easy in Denver’s increasingly costly market.
To qualify, participants are required to prove that they’re currently experiencing some form of financial hardship or prove that they’ve undergone a housing crisis. For example, households must show a notice of rent increase that makes existing housing unaffordable, evidence of uninhabitable living conditions like a notice of public health violations, a past due notice, or loss of a job.
The assistance will cover up to 80 percent of the contracted rent, and/or up to two months of utility assistance that does not to exceed $1,000. According to the city, all rental and utility assistance will be paid directly to the landlord or service provider.
“We welcome anyone needing aid to visit our offices at Denver Human Services or call us at 311,” said marketing and communications coordinator Courtney Meihls. “They will have the opportunity to meet with a representative who can help them apply.”
The TRUA program is projected to assist more than 300 families within its first year — and partnered with sister program LEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance) which assisted 8,309 families between the 2016 and 2017 season — plans to drastically increase that number by the end of 2018.
TRUA is a city of Denver sponsored program designed to fill the gap between those who have too high an income to qualify for financial aid yet remain plagued by Denver’s cost of living — while LEAP is a state-sponsored program administered through Denver human services, solely focused on energy bill assistance for lower-income households. Eligible households for TRUA can earn 80 percent of area median income, which is up to $47,000 annually for an individual or $67,100 annually for a family of four. The program will target neighborhoods experiencing substantial change.
“Both offer energy assistance,” said Derek Woodbury, communications director with the Denver Office of Economic Development. “LEAP is just for lower-income families while TRUA reaches a broader demographic.”
You don’t have to be in dire-straights to care about money and energy. For penny pinchers’ who may not need the assistance of TRUA or LEAP but remain interested in ways to be frugal — here are a few tips on keeping cost and energy use down:
- Replace the furnace filter every two months.
- Keep the curtains and blinds closed at night to keep the heat in.
- Bundle up and turn down the heat, blankets and jackets are free unlike energy.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.
- Keep the water heater temperature at 120 degrees or lower.
For more information on staying warm this winter give the call center a ring at 3-1-1 or visit the cities hub for all things TRUA and LEAP here.