PEORIA- The poverty rate in Peoria is on the rise.
A report released this week shows 28 percent more Peoria County residents are considered at or below the poverty level.
Jim Matthews knows what it means to hit rock bottom.
"I got a job, lost my job, couldn't find another job," Matthews explains.
He lives in area shelters and spends his days looking for new opportunities through local service agencies.
"You go up to workforce and there's people everyday looking for jobs. There's just nothing around right now. No jobs available," he adds.
Matthews is one of the more than 18 percent of Peoria County residents who are living at or below the poverty line.
A report from The Heartland Alliance Research Group shows one-third of people in Illinois are classified as poor.
Which is defined as a family income of just over $23,000 thousand a year.
Peoria's numbers earned it a spot on the state's poverty warning list.
Meaning it needs to take corrective action.
"We're doing a lot with workforce development, brining people in and re-training them into jobs that are positions locally," says Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.
Mayor Ardis says Peoria is in the same position as many communities,and families, across the country.
Trying to do more with less.
"The money the city gets traditionally from the federal government for a lot of these grants, they continue to cut us back on that. From a financial standpoint, we don't have a lot of resources to supplement what we're losing from state and federal governments. But we do have a lot of organizations trying to help," Ardis explains.
"We are full and we have a waiting list of homeless women and children," says Phil Newton, Director of Peoria's South Side Mission.
Local social service agencies are seeing record numbers of people seeking help in Peoria.
They say while the numbers may be going up, the problem of poverty is nothing new.
"Zipcode 61605, the southside of Peoria, is one of the 100 poorest zipcodes in all of America," adds Newton.
Matthews says people have two choices, give up on life, or keep trying to make it better.
"If they don't get any funding, get people who want to help us, I don't see where we're going to be able to do a whole lot but just keep going like we're going and surviving the best we can survive," adds Matthews.
Mayor Ardis says the addition of new organizations like LISC and Thrive are also helping to provide more resources to the city.
He also says focusing on improving education will help move the county forward.