Heart of Illinois
United Way

Help for Hard Times Guide

This guide has been designed to provide guidance if you're facing unemployment or adjusting to life on a reduced income. By taking control of your situation and learning what is available, you will be able to survive the struggling economy.

Resource Quicklist


Peoria Friendship House: 309-671-5200
Tri-County (Peoria) Urban League: 309-673-7474
Workforce Network: 309-495-8900


Ask these agencies about what is available near you:
Catholic Charities: 636-8000
Food Stamps-IL Dept. of Human Services: 800-843-6154
Midwest Food Bank: 691-5270
Peoria City/County Health Department WIC: 679-6000
Salvation Army: 655-7220
Tazewell County Health Department WIC: 925-5511
Peoria Area Food Bank: 309-671-3906
Peoria City/County Health Department WIC: 309-679-6000
Peoria Friendship House: 309-671-5200
Salvation Army: 309-655-7220
Tazewell County Health Department WIC: 309-925-5511


METEC: 309-676-3832
Prairie State Legal Services: 309-674-9831


Center for Prevention of Abuse: 309-691-0551
Peoria Friendship House: 309-671-5200
Human Service Center: 309-671-8000
Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity: 309-671-3900
Salvation Army: 309-655-7220
YWCA: 309-685-7655


Ask For Help Hotline (24-hour crisis hotline): 800-273-TALK
Children's Home Crisis Hotline: 855-837-HOPE
FamilyCore: 309-676-2400


Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity: 309-671-3900
Tazwood Community Services: 309-266-9941 or 309-694-4391


Get your questions answered by calling 309-674-7140.
May take one to two days (due to backlog) for a response.

Take Control of Your Finances

Reduced income requires evaluating your financial picture. Use this checklist to help you get started . . .

Determine your financial resources:
Include savings, pensions, profit shares, stocks, cash value of life insurance policies, unemployment compensation, severance pay, spouse's income, medical benefits, etc.

Plan a realistic budget:
Set up a plan which allows for the basic needs of food shelter, clothing, and medical care. Be sure to include anticipated expenses like insurance premiums, etc.

Stop use of all credit:
Do not make purchases on credit if you can avoid it. This will save on interest charges.

Set priorities:
If your income does not cover all your bills, be sure to pay bills in the following order:

  1. rent
  2. utilities
  3. food
  4. transportation

Cancel unnecessary purchases and services:
Include cable, cell phones, subscriptions, etc.

Consider refinancing:
Refinance or renegotiate your loans to lower expenses including bank loans, car loans, or mortgages.

Contact the following to discuss your economic situation:

  1. Your mortgage holder or landlord:
    Let them know in person if you cannot make a payment. Request a postponement until income resumes. If you have an FHA or Veteran's Insured Mortgage, ask for forbearance (an emergency relief program to avoid foreclosure). With a landlord, discuss ways to work or pay off your obligation.
  2. Utilities (phone, gas, electric and water):
    Contact them as soon as possible to show good faith. Take measures to reduce service as much as possible.
  3. Any creditor: (car, furniture, credit cards, etc.)
    Try to set up an alternate payment plan and or try to return collateral items (jewelry, furniture, etc.) to reduce debts. Keep full records of these transactions, including the name of the firm, person you spoke with, phone numbers, and account of what you agreed on, and the date. Make one copy for your file and file one with them for their records.
  4. Set an appointment with a consumer credit counseling service:
    Our community has several to choose from including Metec, Novadebt, and Chestnut Credit Counseling.
  5. Seek legal counsel:
    If you're served with a notice of delinquency or deficiency or with a summons to appear in court, you should seek legal counsel concerning your rights and responsibilities. Examples include, but are not limited to, evictions, foreclosures, and past due utilities or debts.
  6. File for unemployment insurance:
    File online at www.ides.state.il.us/ or visit your nearest Illinois Department of Employment Security office (Phone: 309-671-3113. )

    You will need your Social Security Card or ID that has the number on it, a second form of ID, and if you're claiming dependents you will need their SSN and date of birth. If you are not a United States Citizen, you will need your Alien Registration Information. If you have worked since Sunday of the week in which you are applying, you'll need to know the amount of gross wages earned this week. Once you've filed, you will need to call-in weekly to certify that you're still unemployed and are approved for benefits.

Do you need help with...

Financial Stability?

309-676-3832 metec1.org
Provides families and individuals with financial literacy, homeownership, and budget and credit counseling.

Chestnut Credit Counseling
800-615-3022 chestnut.org/credit
Credit counselors create plans for orderly liquidation of debt while examining ways to prevent future financial difficulties.

800-772-4567 x80588 novadebt.org
Provides financial education, debt management plans, bankruptcy counseling and credit review.

Health and wellness support?

Heartland Community Health Clinics
309-680-7600 heartlandchc.org
Clinics available throughout the greater Peoria area providing primary health care services including medication and referrals for those in need. Dental services provided for adults.

Crittenton Centers
309-674-0105 crittentoncenters.org
A crisis nursery providing emergency day care for low income families with children. Includes childcare for parents looking for a job and have no one to care for their child(-ren) and assisting parents when they need time away from their child(-ren) due to stress or emergency situations.

Prescription Drug Card image

FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card

Included within the Hard Times Guide, free FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card lowers the cost of medication by an average of 35 to 40 percent for individuals without insurance or who take medications not covered by their insurance (including Medicare or Medicaid). The FamilyWize card is also available at more than 75 pharmacies in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. Individuals can also find the discount cards at Proctor First Care, Methodist MedPoint locations and OSF Medical Center.

Legal matters?

Prairie State Legal Services
309-674-9831 pslegal.org
Free civil legal services for low income individuals and seniors including family law, housing, evictions, foreclosures, utilities, consumer rights, bankruptcy and public benefits.

Taking care of your pets?

Guidance and advice are available from local animal shelters. Look for shelters online at petfinder.com or contact Foster Pet Outreach at 309-682-1122 fosterpetoutreach.org.

Searching for a Job? Utilize these ideas and community resources:

Visit Workforce Network
211 Fulton Street, Peoria, phone: 309-495-8900 workforcenetwork.com

Peoria's Workforce Network provides a wide range of resources including workshops and seminars, computers for creating and updating resumes, career planning, assistance searching the job market and scholarships for retraining for a new career.

  • Take advantage of career counseling offered by your company or other community groups or agencies.
  • Utilize various employment agencies ( where the fee is paid by the prospective employer) and employment listings for job leads.
  • Maintain contact with former co-workers, your union, church, or other community groups for emotional support as well as employment leads.

For additional agencies providing community services, please see our complete list of United Way partner agencies.

Guide provided by:
Heart of Illinois United Way 309-674-5181 hoiunitedway.org
Labor Council of West Central Illinois.

Help for Hard Times Brochure image

Download the Brochure

Download the Help for Hard Times Guide PDF 600kb.

Includes the FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card.