In Illinois, unemployment benefits alone may not be enough to pay for you and your family’s basic necessities and keep you in your home while you look for work. Fortunately, there are state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help you bridge the gap and provide emergency aid until you can find a new job and get back on your feet.
Help with Healthcare and Medical Expenses in IL
The state of Illinois expanded their Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, so anyone between the ages of 19 and 64 who meets income guidelines can enroll in the state’s Medicaid plan.
Individuals who do not have dependents and are not disabled can apply for subsidized health coverage on the state’s healthcare exchange, GetCoveredIllinois.gov.
If you have dependent children living in the home, you may be eligible for either the FamilyCare or AllKids programs, depending on your income level. Pregnant mothers may also qualify for Moms & Babies, a health plan that covers women who will qualify for Medicaid once their baby is born.
Income Guidelines for Illinois Medicaid
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
You can apply for Medicaid and other health benefits on the ABE Illinois website or call 866-311-1119. The ABE website is the starting point to apply for most benefits in the state of Illinois, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
If you do not qualify for the FamilyCare program, the AllKids program has higher income guidelines (a family of four can earn over $77,000 per year and still qualify). Under AllKids, you pay a small monthly premium of $40 per enrolled child and a $10 co-pay for doctor visits.
Free and Low-Cost Health and Dental Clinics
For those who don’t qualify for Medicaid or other subsidized health insurance programs, there are many free and low-cost community health and dental clinics in the state. These clinics are open to uninsured and underinsured families and individuals. You may be required to show proof of income in some cases or pay a small co-pay or sliding scale fee for services.
The Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (IAFCC) maintains a listing of free clinics across the state, primarily in Chicago and the collar counties, plus a few rural areas. You can call them at 312-863-1780 or use this clinic search tool to find a facility near you.
This is the largest community health clinic in the state and has two locations in the Chicago area providing health care including primary care and specialty care, dental services, wellness classes, and pharmacy services to the uninsured who meet eligibility requirements:
—You must be currently uninsured.
—Your income must be below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines (about $30,000 for an individual and $61,000 for a family of four, for example).
—You are not under care at any facility or clinic.
You must bring the following documents with you at the time of your intake or first appointment:
- Proof of income
- Proof of address
- Picture ID
- List of current medications, if any
- If previously insured, a letter saying that you are no longer covered
The locations are:
2611 W. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
641 W. 63rd St.
Chicago, IL 60621
Access DuPage is a collaborative effort of hundreds of providers and facilities in the county to provide quality health care to uninsured individuals at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
To apply, find your local intake agent using this online tool or contact the administrative staff at Access DuPage between 8am and 4pm, Monday through Friday at (630) 510-8720. You will need to bring proof of identification, proof of income, and proof of address at the time of your intake appointment.
320 East Central Avenue
Decatur, IL 62521
Phone: (217) 877-9117
Crossing Healthcare is a federally qualified community health center providing low-cost health care, counseling, children’s health, lab services, and prescription medications to the uninsured and underinsured in Macon County. Services are provided on a sliding scale basis, although the clinic will not turn away anyone regardless of ability to pay.
A $10 copayment is asked of individuals at or below 100% of federal poverty guidelines (about $24,000 for a family of four).
You will be asked to provide proof of identification and proof of income when you apply for services.
The Alton Health Center is part of the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation and provides low cost comprehensive health care services regardless of your ability to pay and your insurance status. However, you will be asked to provide proof of income when you apply for services. The center offers pediatrics care, family medicine, and behavioral health services.
550 Landmarks Blvd
Monday – Friday
8:30 am – 5:00 pm (618) 463-5905
Pediatrics (618) 463-0649
Behavioral Health (618) 465-8829
902 N. Franklin Ave.
Normal, IL 61761
CHCC provides affordable health care to families and individuals at or below 185% of federal poverty guidelines that live in McLean County and are not currently insured. You must provide proof of income to receive care.
2239 E. Cook St.
Springfield, IL 62703
1440 West Walnut
Jacksonville, IL 62650
The Central Counties Health Centers provide pediatric and family medical care, dental care, behavioral health services on a sliding scale based on income. You must provide proof of income when you apply for services.
The county Community Health Center is located at:
1106 Neal Avenue
Joliet, IL 60433
Phone: (815)727-8670 (24-hour Access)
The health center provides sliding-scale fees for a full range of health care and behavioral health services. You may use the center even if you have health insurance. Walk-in care is available and 24-hour access to a physician is available.
The Will County Health Department also offers well child visits, immunizations, maternity care, and other services at low cost to Will County residents.
501 Ella Avenue
Joliet, IL 60433
Cash Assistance in IL
The state cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is available to low-income families. There are several eligibility requirements:
- You must be pregnant or have a child under age 19 living with you. If you are 18, you must be a full-time high school student. If you are pregnant, you and your husband may qualify even if this is your first child.
- You must be an Illinois resident (if you are homeless, you can still qualify).
- You must be a U.S. citizen or meet certain immigration requirements.
- You must stick to a plan for self-sufficiency developed with your case manager.
TANF benefits are time-limited (up to 60 months lifetime assistance) and you must participate in work-related activities such as job training, vocational education, post-secondary education, etc. Individuals who qualify for TANF are generally screened for other services, including child care assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, health care, job placement assistance, and housing assistance.
Benefit amounts vary depending on which county you live in; there are three “groupings.” The most recent available benefits amounts are as follows:
|# in unit||Group I
Adult & children
Adult & children
Adult & children
Benefits are administered through the Illinois Department of Human Services. To apply, contact the DHS Help Line at 1 800 843-6154 or use the DHS Office Locator tool to find an office near you. You can also apply online using the ABE Illinois online application system.
General Assistance Fund
General Assistance (GA) is a state-funded program to provide crisis cash aid to individuals and families who do not qualify for TANF. The rules are not quite as restrictive but funds are limited to emergency and crisis aid on a one-time basis. Apply at your local DHS office; you can find it using this locator tool. You can also call the help line at 1 800 843-6154.
Rent and Mortgage Assistance in IL
Illinois is one of 18 states that qualified for the Hardest Hit Fund, a special program established under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) of 2010. The program was reapproved in 2016 with an additional $2 billion to help low and moderate income families keep their homes.
In order to qualify, applicants must have experienced a reduction in income due to a qualifying hardship event that was “through no fault of their own”. Hardship must have occurred after January 1st, 2010 and after property purchase date. These include:
- Decrease/Loss of business income
- Disability or other health event
- Death or Divorce of a spouse
Other requirements include:
- The property must be your primary residence/owner occupied.
- Household income must have dropped by at least 15%.
- Household income cannot exceed 120% of area median income.
- Liquid assets can’t exceed $17,500.
- Unpaid mortgage balance can’t exceed $500,000.
If you qualify, you may get one of the following types of aid (which cannot exceed $35,000):
- Reinstatement assistance, a one-time payment of all mortgage back payments, fees, and penalties.
- Monthly mortgage assistance which will pay 100% of your mortgage payments for up to 12 months.
- Both reinstatement and monthly assistance to reinstate the mortgage and pay mortgage for up to one year.
For more information, contact the Illinois Housing Development Authority:
Illinois Housing Development Authority
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60601
You can also visit the IllinoisHardestHit website to begin the application process online.
ASSISTANCE WITH RENT/EVICTION
If you qualify for TANF under Illinois guidelines, you may also qualify for emergency assistance for rent payment to avoid eviction and for housing assistance to help you find affordable housing. Ask your DHS case manager if you are having trouble paying your rent.
In addition, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a Continuum of Care program which provides grant money to agencies and charitable organizations to help families in need avoid eviction.
Here is a list of organizations by the major counties in Illinois who may be able to offer assistance with your rent payments or if you are facing eviction.
The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services offers a variety of programs and services in the Chicago area to help families in crisis, including emergency rental assistance. To see if you qualify for aid, visit the Community Service Center nearest you:
1140 W. 79th Street
Chicago, IL 60620
10 S. Kedzie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612
4314 S. Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60653
845 W. Wilson Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
8650 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617
4312 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
The centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are accepted or you can call to make an appointment in advance. You can call 3-1-1 within the city of Chicago to be connected to your Community Service Center or call 312.744.5000 outside the city.
201 S. Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 682-5402
Westmont, IL 60559
Phone: (630) 682-5402
Monday – Thursday 8 AM – 9 PM
Friday 8 AM – 4 PM
Saturday 8 AM – 12 PM
The People’s Resource Center offers a complete spectrum of services including emergency rent assistance and crisis aid. To request emergency financial assistance, call 630-682-5402, ext. 323 and leave a message with your name, phone number, and a short explanation of your situation. You will receive a call back from a staff member. You can also speak with an intake worker during a food pantry visit.
The MRCAA assists residents of Macon County with rent and mortgage assistance and crisis and emergency aid. They will work with families in crisis to pay back rent, arrange payment plans with landlords, get food, clothing, and transitional shelter if needed, and even help furnishing a home.
The center is located at:
1103 Avant Street
Tuskegee, AL 36083
Telephone: (334) 727-6100
408 East Broadway
Alton, IL 62002
Phone: (618) 463-1906
502 Madison Avenue
Madison, IL 62060
Phone: (618) 877-8860
The Urban League’s primary mission is housing and it provides rent assistance and emergency rehousing services. They also employment services and limited medical care services as well as tutoring programs for children.
611 West Washington Street
Bloomington, Illinois 61701
Phone: (309) 829-9476
Hours: Monday thru Friday 9 am- 12 pm and 1 pm- 4 pm
The Salvation Army may have funds available to assist with back rent and mortgage payments and provide crisis relief to families facing eviction. Other services include a food pantry, baby items, clothing, transportation, help with utilities, medical care and prescription drug assistance.
1100 East Adams
Springfield, IL 62703
Contact Ministries helps over 1,000 families every month with housing and rental assistance, food, clothing, transportation, utilities and medical care. You can walk in at any time or call in advance for an appointment.
611 E. Cass Street
Joliet, IL 60432
The Daybreak Center is one of the facilities operated by Catholic Charities. They may have funding available to assist with rent payments and transitional housing.
Help with Childcare and Education Expenses in IL
The Illinois Department of Human Services offers a Childcare Assistance Program for low income families who are either employed or participating in employment related training or education. The service is coordinated through 16 Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies throughout the state. To apply, find your local CCR&R using this online tool or call 1-877-202-4453. You can also apply online on the DHS website.
You can choose any provider that works with your situation, including a relative or friend, provided the following provider criteria are met:
- Licensed or license-exempt (not legally required to be licensed);
- Must be at least 18 years old;
- May not be the parent or step parent of the children;
- May not be on the same TANF cash assistance grant as you and your children if you are receiving these benefits.
- Pass all required background checks.
Your income cannot exceed 162% of federal poverty guidelines. Check your eligibility online with this eligibility calculator.
|2017 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA|
|PERSONS IN FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD||POVERTY GUIDELINE|
|For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,180 for each additional person.|
Help Paying Your Utility Bills in IL
The Illinois Department of Commerce administers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income families offset the cost of their utility bills. Eligibility is based on income, which can’t exceed 150% of federal poverty guidelines.
|Family Size||30 Day Income||Annual Income|
Application dates are as follows:
|Beginning September 1, 2016||Seniors, People with Disabilities|
|Beginning October 1, 2016||Households with children under the age of 6 years and disconnected households|
|Beginning November 1, 2016||All other eligible households|
When you apply, you’ll be asked to provide the following documentation:
- Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day period beginning with the date of application.
- A copy of current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if energy directly paid for).
- A copy of rental agreement (if renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
- Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.
- Proof the household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
The state also offers a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). If you get power through one of these companies (Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas), you may qualify to pay a set portion of your income regardless of actual usage.
To apply, contact your local Community Action Agency using this location tool. You can also call 217.785.2533 for more information.
Certain energy providers in the state also offer financial assistance for low income customers and those in financial crisis.
If you are an Ameren customer, you can apply for the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends program online, which is a bill assistance program based on income. You can also call 800.755.5000 for more information.
|Family Size||30-Day (Gross) Monthly Income Range
Must be between:
|1||$1,485 – $2,970|
|2||$2,003 – $4,005|
|3||$2,520 – $5,040|
|4||$3,038 – $6,075|
|5||$3,555 – $7,110|
|6||$4,073 – $8,145|
|7||$4,591 – $9,183|
|8||$5,111 – $10,22|
ComEd also offers several payment assistance programs and plans to help you keep your utility bills manageable. You can apply for a grant of up to $500 every two years if you meet the following income requirements:
2017 Income Eligibility Guidelines
|150% 30 Day Income||150% Annual Income||250% 30 Day Income||250% Annual Income|
Call 1-888-806-CARE (1-888-806-2273) for more information or to apply for assistance.
Help with Groceries and Food in IL
SNAP (Formerly Known as Food Stamps)
Illinois offers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for low income families. The income guidelines effective 2016 are as follows:
People in Your
(Age 60 and Over or Disabled)
|1||$ 1,634||$ 1,980|
|2||$ 2,203||$ 2,670|
|3||$ 2,772||$ 3,360|
|4||$ 3,342||$ 4,050|
|5||$ 3,911||$ 4,740|
|6||$ 4,480||$ 5,430|
|7||$ 5,051||$ 6,122|
|8||$ 5,623||$ 6,815|
|9||$ 6,195||$ 7,508|
|10||$ 6,767||$ 8,201|
|Each additional person add||$ 572||$ 693|
The maximum benefits you and your family can receive is in the chart below:
|Number of People in
To see if you are eligible, use this eligibility calculator on the Illinois Department of Human Services website. Remember, however, this is only an estimate, so if you believe you qualify, visit your local DHS office (this locator tool will help you find the office nearest you) or apply online through the ABE portal.
You can also call 1-800-843-6154 for help with your application or to find an office near you.
Illinois Women Infants and Children (WIC)
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have children in your household age five and under, you may qualify for the WIC program. WIC provides special checks or vouchers to help you purchase healthy foods such as cereal, milk, fruit and vegetables and juices, infant food and formula, peanut butter, legumes, and cheese.
Food Pantries and Banks in Illinois
Feeding Illinois is the state association of food banks in the state and it serves all 108 counties.
The main office is located at:
1323 Sherwood Road,
Glenview, IL 60025
Phone 773 308 4904
CENTRAL ILLINOIS FOOD BANK
1937 E. Cook
Springfield, Illinois 62702
Phone (217) 522-4022
Service area: Adams, Bond, Brown, Cass, Christian, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, and Shelby counties.
EASTERN ILLINOIS FOOD BANK
2405 North Shore Drive
Urbana, IL 61802-7221
Phone (217) 328-3663
Service area: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion counties.
GREATER CHICAGO FOOD BANK
4100 W. Ann Lurie Place
Chicago, IL 60632
Phone (773) 247-3663
Service area: Chicago and Cook County.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS FOOD BANK
273 Dearborn Court
Geneva, IL 60134
Phone (630) 443-6910
Service area: Boone, Dekalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will, and Winnebago counties.
PEORIA FOOD BANK
721 W. McBean St.
Peoria IL 61605
Phone (309) 671-3906
Service area: Fulton, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties.
FoodPantries.org is a website that will help you search for food pantries and kitchens in your area. You can get immediate assistance with hot meals or groceries for you and your family at many of the organizations listed on their site.
Additional Aid and Resources by City and County in IL
Emergency Assistance Department
721 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60654
Intake: (312) 655-7500
Lake County Emergency Services
671 S. Lewis Ave., Waukegan, IL 60085
Intake: (847) 782-4100
Marillac Emergency Service Center
212 S. Francisco Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (773) 584-3252
Catholic Charities offers help with rent, utilities, and transportation as funds are available. They also offer a food pantry and other services for families in crisis.
The Salvation Army
4800 N. Marine Drive
Chicago, IL 60640
Funds may be available for emergency relief; contact them for information.
1685 N Farnsworth Ave.
Aurora, Illinois 60505
Phone: (630) 851.2203
This agency offers emergency housing assistance and other relief services to eligible low-income individuals and families. Download an application here or contact them for more information.
Macon County Assistance Exchange (MAX)
First United Methodist Church
201 W. North
Decatur, IL 62521
MAX is a joint effort of area religious organizations to give monetary support to persons in the community who have emergency financial needs.
- Emergency grants of up to $300.
- Can only access once per every 365 days.
- Hours for assistance applications: Monday – Thursday, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
St. Vincent de Paul
717 State Street
Alton, IL 62002
Phone: (618) 462-6902
Call or visit for information on emergency aid and other resources for low-income families in need.
1301 West Washington Street
Bloomington, IL 61701
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:30 pm
Services include home ownership assistance (foreclosure avoidance) and other safety net programs for individuals and families in crisis.
221 N. 11th Street
Springfield, Illinois 62702
Phone (217) 525-2196
The Salvation Army provides emergency utility assistance and food assistance to families in need.
300 Third Ave.
Joliet, IL 60433-1985
The Salvation Army provides emergency and crisis assistance. Be sure to bring the following when applying for aid:
– Photo ID (for all adults 18 & over in the household / Birth Certificates for children under the age of 18)
– Social Security numbers for each family member,
– Proof of household income (2 Months of pay stubs, unemployment, disability, social security, pension or child support)
– Proof of address (current rent / lease agreement or mortgage)
– Persons must be residents of Will County.