“National Poverty Awareness Month represents an opportunity to connect people to the 40+ million Americans

living in poverty and the 18 million living in persistent poverty.”

Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow, the word “poverty” suggests near destitution and deprivation. This is the inability to provide nutritious food, clothing and reasonable shelter for one’s family as well as oneself. The description of these millions of people classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description nationally, as well as folks living in right in our community.

Understanding poverty as a direct correlation to homelessness in America and equally important, our community, requires looking at evidence-based numerical values as well as at the actual living conditions of the individuals that the government deems to be poor. Currently, there are 39.7 million people in poverty, not statistically different from the number in poverty in 2016. According to The U.S. Census Bureau, the official poverty rate is 12.3 percent.


However, understanding poverty in America, as well as our community, requires looking behind these numbers at the actual living conditions of the individuals the government deems to be poor. Only a smaller number of the persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is varied in scope, magnitude and severity.



Many statistics point out that ‘experience of poverty’ is far more than just the poverty line, which fails to capture the millions of families who move in and out of poverty each year. These families are at risk of falling into poverty if they lose a job, have a medical emergency, or are in a situation of trauma or abuse.

For example, a family of four living below the poverty line, with a family income less than $46,000 a year represents one in every three people. This is what it means to be classified as the ‘working poor.’ Working poverty has increased dramatically over the last three decades.

While a large number of that 100 million living at or below 200 percent of the poverty line are children and seniors, over 12 million of them are full-time workers between the ages of 25 and 64.

Working poverty has increased dramatically over the last three decades, growing from less than 7 million in 1980 to today’s 12.4 million. Of all full-time workers ages 25 to 64, the share who were working poor declined slightly between 1980 and 2000 before increasing by 19 percent in 2012. In the 1980s and 1990s, the working poor rate hovered around 12 percent, but by 2012, was close to 14 percent.



Being homeless is a traumatic event, not just men, but children and women as well. Housing instability for women in particular and a lack of safe and affordable housing options heightens the risks for women experiencing abuse and domestic violence. Poorer women in a community, are more vulnerable to homelessness and are also at greater risk of domestic violence. Poverty limits women’s choices and makes it harder for them to escape abusive relationships. Providing stability with an affordable home makes other issues more conquerable.

The National Report sights top causes of homelessness among families were lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty and low wages, in that order. The immediate needs of women and perhaps her children, fleeing a relationship, is safety. Some of these women may be able to safely stay in their own home while others may require a stay in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program before re-entering their own independent housing, but for others, the street is their only option.


Short-term or long-term rental home assistance can be used to help women exit shelters and regain housing. Having an affordable place to call home is crucial for these women and the community as a whole. This reduces the risk of homelessness for these women as well as the real possibility of future abuse. Unrelenting research indicates that families in a community that receive a housing subsidy after exiting homelessness are far less likely to experience interpersonal domestic abuse than those survivors who do not. Frank Haney, Chairman of the Winnebago County Board, states, “Violence against women is not discriminatory. It is also not a partisan issue or strictly a women’s issue. It is a community issue. It happens to women and children of all ages, income levels, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and religious affiliations.”


Women require immediate supportive services that can help them heal from the trauma of abuse. Outside of addressing their immediate safety and housing needs, this also helps advance their economic security and well-being for themselves and the children who are involved.

According to a study by the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, ‘Women who had experienced recent or ongoing domestic violence were far more likely to face eviction than other women.’ Currently domestic violence accounts for nearly 35 percent of the violent crime in the Rockford community. “We’re educating the public, building partnerships and providing resources to tackle this epidemic, which cuts across all facets of our community, states, Thomas P. McNamara, Mayor of Rockford. The initiative has received a $450,000 federal grant to begin the establishing the Family Justice Center. They are coordinating advocacy service organizations, law enforcement, and civic groups.


Children are at the greater risk

2.5 million children will experience homelessness this year and 1 in 30 children in the United States experience homelessness annually. Nearly 1.3 million school children were homeless in school year 2014-15. Unfortunately, 51% of homeless children are under age 5 and, therefore, too young for school and are not counted. These students who are experiencing homelessness are up to nine times more likely than their non-homeless peers to repeat a grade. 35% of all homeless persons nationwide are families with children and most times homeless families are often hidden from our view. They are living in shelters, cars, campgrounds, or doubled up in overcrowded apartments in the community. Slightly more than half of the U.S. population experiences poverty at some time before the age of 65. Roughly half of those who get out of poverty will become poor again within five years.

The poverty level for a family

In 2018, the poverty line for a family of four was $25,100. An employed worker needs to earn $12 an hour to reach the poverty level for a family of four and as a renter, they need to earn $21.21 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental. Two-thirds of poverty level children live in families in which at least one family member works. Just over 16 million children live in households where they have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet and for every ten extremely low-income households, there are only three affordable rentals available on the market today. The most common racial or ethnic group living below the poverty line in Winnebago, IL are White, followed by African American and Hispanic or Latino.

15.6% of the population of Winnebago County are at poverty status, is higher than the national average. A sobering statistic is that the largest demographic living in poverty in the community, is females 25-34 years old, followed by females 18-24 years old and then male children 6-11 years old.

Many of the Rockford Housing Authority residents have a disability and are elderly which represents 54.3% of RHA residents when the survey was taken in 2015. The disparity in the poverty rate between people with and without disabilities grows with age. However disability among people living in poverty is significantly higher than in the rest of the state. The males in Rockford with a disabilities is 30.6% and the State of Illinois is only 13.8%. Poverty rate among disabled females in Rockford is 29.9% while the state statistic is almost less than half, at 17.8%. If you have a disability today, you’re twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You’re also statistically far more likely to be unemployed and the likelihood you will have to resort to living on the street. This gap has widened in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted.


The Rockford Housing Authority believes that the immediate goal is to help stabilize people once a safe, decent, affordable home is available, and connecting folks to services and community support where it is needed. This focus helps people navigate barriers that may stand in the way of securing and maintaining housing and also strives to build a support system by connecting them with people and programs in the community.


The Rockford Housing Authority Staff Specialists help develop a plan with specific activities and actions needed to achieve the immediate goals for our residents in the community. This may include, individualized support to help identify immediate needs, coordination and referrals to necessary services, assistance in setting goals and identifying the steps to accomplish these goals. The RHA Staff members speak various languages and often share the same cultures as the residents we serve. They help bridge cultural differences and provide the support needed. The Resident Staff members use their experience and contacts to help participants obtain employment in many industries, including medical, personal care, office and administration, social services and building trades.


More than 1.6 million people in Illinois, and nearly 1.2 million in the Chicago metro area, lived below the poverty line last year, many of them children, and minorities continued to fare markedly worse than white Americans. 15.6% of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Winnebago County, IL (43,941 out of 281,748 people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average.


Moving out of poverty through The Family Self-Sufficiency Program which is a voluntary program, was established by HUD to promote economic self-sufficiency among RHA participating families.

The RHA Family Self-Sufficiency Specialists assists each participant in developing a Service Plan that outlines their goals for the next five years.  Emphasis is then on full-time employment, credit readiness, and independence from public assistance.  While participants work toward their goals; if their rent increases due to earned income the additional rent paid is set-aside in an escrow account.  This account may be accessed upon completion of their individual FSS Plan to pursue for example a business venture, education, or homeownership.


The ROSS program is a public housing resident self-sufficiency program funded through HUD to assist residents with supportive services and service coordination. The purpose of this program is to work with our public housing residents to create individual work plans related to employment, education, and strategies to reduce and eliminate subsidy assistance. The team of ROSS Case Managers works closely with the resident to develop work plans to develop individual goals and connect with local agencies and services that provide additional supportive services. The ROSS staff also provides transportation for job training and job interviews, child care reimbursement while folks participate in the program.

The goal and outcome of these programs is helping people rise out of poverty and for RHA residents, there are new economic opportunities, jobs, educational programs, greater stability and financial independence.

Launch Your Future with the Lifeforce Development Institute

Launch My Future, as the phrase implies, are multiple intensive, accelerated training programs designed to move your life in a new direction. The skills that are gained in the various programs offered by the RHA Human Services Department are pivotal to workplace success.

The Rockford Housing Authority is proud to support and recommend the Lifeforce Development Institute’s Job/Career Readiness Skills-based training to both RHA Clients and Residents. The LDI Curriculum addresses the foundational skill gap in the workforce with a 12-week, hands-on learning program covering Job/Career Readiness Skills meeting the community’s workforce goals.

To learn more, click here

Section 3 and RHA’s Job bank

The purpose of the Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 is to “ensure that employment and other economic opportunities generated by certain HUD financial assistance shall, to the greatest extent feasible, and consistent with existing Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, be directed toward low and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing, and to business concerns which provide economic opportunities to low and very low-income persons.”

RHA works to ensure the provision of employment, training, contracting, and other economic opportunities to its residents and other low-income persons. In doing so, RHA utilizes Section 3 as a means of promoting stability and self-sufficiency to Section 3 Residents.

RHA has created a Job Bank for residents of the Rockford Housing Authority and residents of the metropolitan area to self-certify as low-income or very low-income.

Once you self-certify through our site you will then receive job alerts from our contractor/vendor base. You will also be notified of other Section 3 opportunities in our community. Don’t have a resume? No problem! During the application process we compile your information into pdf that you can use to apply for listed jobs.

If you want to know more click here for more details



Today in our community and throughout the United States, the gap to get from poverty to self-sufficiency is bigger than ever, requiring an income that is 3 1/2 times the federal poverty level. Added to that, entry-level jobs are paying much less than before, and more education is required to attain higher earning jobs. Getting out of poverty may require a formal education beyond just a high school degree, a job that pays a living wage, a supportive peer group or family network and enough monetary assets to have a reserve to fall back on. Many folks living in poverty feel isolated from a sense of community because they lack trust and social cohesion. Getting out of poverty doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s not a “one size fits all approach.” Each person that the RHA team works with, has his or her own challenges that are unique, however, it will never fit into a logic model or a flow chart. These hypothesized descriptions of the chain of causes and effects leading to an outcome moving out of poverty does not resolve the issue.


It has to occur in the context of everything that is going on in their lives. One outcome that does transcend all the individuals that the Rockford Housing Authority serves, which we believe is a collective solution, is to have safe, affordable and stable housing for themselves and their family. A quality home is the foundation of society and the community. It is the Rockford Housing Authority’s continued mission that a quality home life provides hope and the pathway to goals. Responsible and respectful people deserve the opportunity to contribute to attaining a comfortable quality home and a neighborhood all can have pride in. A place to call home.






-More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. having experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.*

-Being homeless is a traumatic event in itself, and so providing stability with a home first makes other issues more conquerable. “Housing First,” United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Jun 10, 2016.

-To learn more about the Family Justice Center initiative, contact Jennifer Cacciapaglia, Manager of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention, at jennifer.cacciapaglia@rockfordil.gov.

-Rockford Register-Star reported that In Rockford and Winnebago County, domestic violence remains among the area’s most pervasive crime problems. Pg. C01 Rockford Register-Star “Modeled after Milwaukee”

-Pg. A15 Rockford Register-Star –“The cycle of violence and abuse must be broken” Frank Haney, Chairman of the Winnebago County Board

-Source: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, Summary Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, Atlanta, GA, and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

–Jennifer Cacciapaglia has been named the Manager of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention for the City of Rockford. In this position, Cacciapaglia will serve as a key collaborator in coordinating advocacy service organizations, law enforcement, and civic groups. https://rockfordil.gov/mayors-office/mayors-office-on-domestic-violence-and-human-trafficking-prevention/

-Pg. A14 Rockford Register-Star “PROGRESS IN MAKING ROCKFORD SAFER” Rockford Register Star 11/25/2018, a one-stop location for survivors and families to get the services they need,” states Thomas P. McNamara, Mayor of Rockford.

Links to Resources and Statistics in this article:

Transitioning In and Out of Poverty




Disability rate in this city among poor males (it is 20.8% among residents who are not classified as poor): Rockford: 30.6% Illinois: 13.8% Poverty rate among disabled females: Rockford: 21.1% Illinois: 17.8% Disability rate in this city among poor females (it is 18.7% among residents who are not classified as poor): Rockford: 29.9% Illinois: 17.8%


Read more: http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Rockford-Illinois.html

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Rockford-Illinois.html

-2018 Federal Poverty Guidelines Chart

*HHS issues guidelines for each household size. For example, the poverty level for a household of four is an annual income of $24,600.

To get the poverty level for larger families, add $4,320 for each additional person in the household. For

smaller families, subtract $4,320 per person.

Number of People in Household              48 States & DC                    

   One            $12,140          $15,180                $13,960

   Two            $16,460          $20,580                $18,930

   Three         $20,780          $25,980                $23,900

   Four           $25,100          $31,380                $28,870

   Five            $29,420          $36,780                $33,840

   Six               $33,740          $42,180                $38,810

   Seven         $38,060          $47,580                $43,780

   Eight          $42,380          $52,980                $48,750

For nine or more, add this amount for each additional person $4,320                         



How Do the Homeless Get Help from HUD?

HUD provides funds to state and local governments and to nonprofit organizations to assist homeless individuals and families. The funds are used to help the homeless move from the streets, to temporary shelter, to supportive housing (with services, if necessary), and ultimately back to the mainstream of American life.

HUD’s homeless efforts began on a national level with the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which provided the first direct HUD programs to help communities deal with homelessness.

The Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) administers most of HUD’s homeless assistance programs, including:

Shelter Plus Care – HUD provides grants for rental assistance to homeless persons with chronic disabilities under the Shelter Plus Care program. Eligible recipients are state and local government units, public housing agencies and Indian tribes. To receive the funds each recipient must provide supportive services at least equal in value to the rental assistance. Supportive services would address mental illness, substance abuse and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and related diseases.

Supportive Housing – Supportive Housing grants go to state and local governments, Indian tribes and nonprofit organizations to provide short-term transitional housing and services to deinstitutionalized homeless individuals, families with children, individuals with mental disabilities and others, including AIDS victims. States may receive funds for long-term housing projects for homeless handicapped persons. HUD provides grants for acquisition, rehabilitation, new construction and annual payments for operating costs and supportive services. HUD also provides technical assistance. Participants must match the acquisition, rehabilitation or new construction costs and provide a percentage of the operating costs.

Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation (SRO) – Public and Indian housing agencies and private nonprofit organizations compete for Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation grants based on local needs and their ability to provide single-room occupancy (SRO) housing for homeless persons.

Emergency Shelter Grants – Emergency Shelter Grants are distributed to states, entitlement cities and counties and territories on a formula basis, and to Indian tribes. The funds may be used to renovate, rehabilitate or convert buildings to be used as shelters for homeless persons. The funds also may be used to operate emergency shelters, provide essential services to homeless individuals and to prevent homelessness.

Stand Together is a social change organization committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by supporting the creative solutions of individuals and communities around the country.




Carpenter’s Place

Rockford, IL 61104
Office Hours: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Carpenter’s Place provides the tools necessary for rebuilding the lives of the homeless. Inspired by Christ’s compassion, they offer direction with accountability to people with broken lives.

Rockford, IL

MELD at Trinity House Shelter

Rockford, IL 61104
Emergency homeless shelter for young moms, pregnant or parenting, between the ages of 17 and 21, and their children. MELD at Trinity House Homeless Shelter provides housing for homeless pregnant or parenting young mothers and their children. The shelter is located at 620 Kishwaukee Street.

Rockford, IL

Shelter Care Ministries

Rockford, IL 61103
Emergency shelter Transitional housing – Family. The Jubilee Center Provides Shelter: Five days a week, between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:30 pm, members find the doors open, the lights on and coffee brewing at The Jubilee Center.

Rockford, IL

Rockford Rescue Mission

Rockford, IL 61102
(815) 965-5332
We provide emergency shelter, addiction recovery and 3 meals every day free of charge to anyone, not just those who are staying with us. Men’s Crisis Center offers short-term housing for up to 130 homeless men and is located at 715 West State Street
Rockford, IL

American Red Cross Rock River Chapter – Nancy J. Smith Homeless Shelter – CLOSED

Rockford, IL 61102
This shelter has CLOSED – Emergency Shelter Night Only. The Red Cross operates a year round 48-bed congregate shelter with supportive services such as medical care, mental health intervention, and substance abuse outreach provided by Crusader Clinic.

Address: 1200 West State Street Rockford, IL – 61102

Phone:  (815) 490-1600 Office Hours Monday: 8:00 am-8:00 pm
Tuesday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Wednesday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am-8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday: Closed

Crusader Community Health on West State Street


West State Hours

Monday: 8:00 am-8:00 pm
Tuesday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Wednesday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am-8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday: Closed


Crusader Central Scheduling Hours

Monday – Friday, 8:00 am-8:00 pm
Saturday, 8:00 am-Noon

This clinic operates under a SLIDING SCALE model. This means that it MAY NOT be free depending on your income. You will be required to prove financial need in order to receive free services or services at a reduced cost. This is a health care center funded by the federal government. This means even if you have no insurance you can be covered. The center is also income based for those making an income. This health center can cover services such as checkups, treatment, pregnancy care (where applicable), immunizations and child care (where applicable), prescription medicine and mental and substance abuse where applicable. Contact them at the number provided for full details. Crusader Community Health on West State Street is a Community Health Center. Crusader Community Health on West State Street is a Homeless Health Center.


Walgreens Pharmacy

Monday – Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

The Bridge (Youth Services Network)

Youth Services Network operates a DCFS licensed 24 hour homeless shelter for youth ages 14-18 who reside in Winnebago and Boone counties. Walk-in homeless youth are accepted as are youth referred by the schools, probation, and social service agencies. The goal of the shelter is to reunify youth with family members or to find safe, affordable housing if they are over 17 years of age. Shelter and transition services are provided for a maximum of 120 days. YSN hours: 8:00-4:30, 24 hour on call for emergencies.

  • 3703 N. Main Street
    Rockford, IL 61103
  • Phone: 815-986-1947


United Way of Rock River Valley


FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card enables individuals with no or little prescription drug coverage receive discounted pricing on medications. The program offers immediate discounts on prescription drugs that are not covered under regular insurance.  Simply present the FamilyWize card with your prescription at participating pharmacies.

Free Drug Price Lookup Tool >

Save an average of 30% off the pharmacy’s usual and customary retail price of prescription drugs, with the highest savings on generic drugs. Cost for medication will be the discount price offered through this program, or the pharmacy’s usual and customary retail price, whichever is lower. This means the lowest price is assured in that store, at the time of purchase. If the pharmacy’s price is lower, there is no savings or discount.

For list of participating pharmacies you can go directly to the FamilyWize website and search by zip code.

Belvidere, IL

His Glory Christian Outreach

Belvidere, IL 61008
11.69 miles from city center from Rockford
Clothing or Vouchers Outreach Services

Beloit, WI

The Sparrow’s Nest

Beloit, WI 53512
17.66 miles from city center Rockford
emergency shelter for men, women and children.

Housing Programs

The Community Services Division Offers the Following:

Housing Assistance Programs

  • Rapid Rehousing – Assists persons who are literally homeless (living on the streets or in shelters).
  • Homeless Prevention – Assists persons who have experienced a short term crisis beyond their control with rent or mortgage assistance to remain housed.
  • Condemnation Relocation – Assists persons whose housing has been condemned with one month payment of rent at a new location.

Chance4Change/Homeless Single Point of Entry

All literally homeless persons (on streets or in shelters) as well as homeless youth, veterans and survivors of domestic violence access housing services through Chance4Change, a single point of entry for the homeless in our community. They are assessed for permanent housing and a housing plan is developed.

If you are homeless and living on the streets or in an unsafe living situation, please call the Homeless Hotline at Community Action at 1.844.710.6919 and press 5 – or stop in our office during office hours at 555 N. Court St. Suite 301, Rockford.

Foster Youth Housing Assistance Program

Youth who have aged out of foster care aged 18-21 who are either homeless or having problems with housing receive support and services to help them become housed, no referral is needed.  These same services are available to Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) involved families with a referral from their caseworker.

Continuum of Care/Rock River Homeless Coalition

The Rock River Homeless Coalition serves as the HUD recognized Continuum of Care, the decision making body for homeless program coordination for the jurisdiction serving both Winnebago and Boone Counties.  Community Services provides support and technical assistance to the Rock River Homeless Coalition.  Community Services also is responsible for coordinating the application process for the HUD Continuum of Care competitive grant funding that awards funds to organizations that provide homeless services and serves as administrator of those grants.

The Coalition includes a broad representation of relevant organizations and agencies as well as interested individuals charged with:

  • community-wide planning and strategic use of resources to address homelessness;
  • improving coordination and integration with mainstream resources and other programs targeted to people experiencing homelessness;
  • promoting the quick re-housing of homeless individuals and families
  • improving data collection and performance measurement to ensure program success

For more information and for the latest postings about grant applications, funding and projects, go to:


YWCA Child Care Solutions

(888) 225-7072

4990 East State Street
Rockford, IL – 61108

Local Child Care Resource & Referral agency if you would like to find quality child care or receive an application to apply for the Child Care Assistance Program.

The DHS’ Child Care Assistance Program provides low-income, working families with access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size, income and number of children in care.

The State of Illinois helps income eligible families pay for their child care services while they work, go to school, training and other work-related activities.


Motherhouse Crisis Nursery

Providing Needed Support To Families In Crisis

424 7th St.

Rockford, IL 61104

Phone: 815-962-4858

When crisis hits, low-income families often have nowhere to turn for help. The Children’s Home & Aid MotherHouse Crisis Nursery can lend support to families when they are faced with a crisis such as homelessness, domestic violence, medical emergencies, joblessness or substance abuse.

MotherHouse Crisis Nursery provides both immediate help as well as longer-term intervention/prevention family support to help stabilize the family. Central to the program is Crisis Child Care, which provides a safe haven for children when their families are unable to care for them due to an emergency.