The U. S. Department of Commerce has launched a new website to assist Americans in getting through the current and probably future economic situation.
The site, http://www.economicrecovery.gov/ is billed by the Department as "a resource for the American people to find help to keep their homes, find jobs and protect their savings." It is basically a quick link to useful web pages sponsored by other federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Information on the site is clustered into three modules: Help for Americans (or consumers;) Help for Workers; and Help for Small Business and Financial Institutions
Visitors to the consumer portion of the site can obtain information on:
- Food and nutrition. There is a guide to available feeding programs such Food Stamps and the WIC (Women's, Infant's and Children's) food supplement program and where to go to apply for such assistance, and tips on shopping for and preparing nutritious food economically.
- Avoiding and/or recovering from foreclosure. A visitor can locate state-by-state assistance or financial counseling if facing the loss of his home; options for refinancing, cautions about foreclosure scams, and resources for finding new housing if foreclosure is inevitable.
- Securing retirement. This module has data on laws such as ERISA and the Pension Protection Act that seek to safeguard retirement funds; availability of retirement seminars and webcasts and other tips on retiring successfully.
- Answers to questions about Federal Deposit Insurance coverage.
The Help for Workers module provides:
- A state-by-state guide to work related agencies and programs such as Job Corps sites, employment and training offices, and veterans' job assistance.
- State level guides to Unemployment Insurance and minimum wage laws.
- Links to private one-stop career centers.
Small business and financial institutions can get help with
- Obtaining small business loans, training and mentoring.
- Overseas business opportunities.
- Contracting opportunities for woman and minority owned businesses,
- Federal assistance to banks and other financial institutions like as FDIC's new Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program.
- Farm loan programs.
Much of the information, particularly on the consumer pages, seems a bit simplistic but there is a lot of meat as well, particularly the assistance given to get people and businesses directly to the correct place to obtain help. It can be an overwhelming task, especially on the state level in many venues, to locate an agency or program that can help with a crisis situation. This is even truer if the person seeking information is also dealing with the stress of trying to find a job, save his business, or put food on the table.