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Friday, February 22, 2013

Two new types of help for Rhode Islanders in need

Replacing food lost during Nemo, helping the unemployed start their own businesses
By Will Collette

Charlestown’s unemployment rate remains high at 9.7%, which translates into 451 Charlestown workers who are out of work and actively seeking work.

Charlestown also has several hundred families who receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (formerly known as Food Stamps). 217 of them are children.

There are a couple of new developments that can help.

New option for the unemployed

For the long-term unemployed, especially those in their 50s, getting a new job becomes less and less likely. Employers are less interested in older workers especially when they can draw on a large pool of young people who generally cost less to hire.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training just received a federal grant of $159,734 to help long-term unemployed Rhode Islanders figure out how to start their own businesses as an option. Under the grant, you can receive training, help in developing a business plan and directions on how to find resources to start a new business (e.g. state and federal small business funding, of the type that was recently discussed at the Charlestown Economic Improvement Commission’s forum – click here).

Though this is an idea that may not work for everyone, it might help some. One obvious problem is that you will have to figure out how to find and talk to the right person at RIDLT and, lately, getting through to the woefully understaffed RIDLT has been a nightmare. But it’s worth a shot if you think this is the right road for you. You may want to start out by e-mailing the Unemployment Compensation Division to ask them about the Self-Employment Assistance Program.

Did you lose food during Nemo?

Senator Jack Reed announced that Rhode Island has received an additional $2.1 million to help qualified families replace food that was lost during the long power outages after our area was hit by Winter Storm Nemo.

If you are receiving SNAP benefits and lost food because of the storm, you may qualify for additional SNAP benefits to replace what was lost. 

Even though many families either had to seek shelter or shiver in the cold when the electricity was cut off, you should contact the RI Department of Human Services (click here).

Act soon

If you think you and your family could benefit from either the Self-Employment Assistance Program or replacement food under SNAP, do not delay. The state only received relatively small amounts of one-time funding and the opportunities aren’t going to last forever.