It's a big problem for people like Decatur resident Mark Turnbo, who has fallen on hard times. He's encountered everything from the economy to health concerns and a criminal background.
"Me and my girlfriend, we're like jobless right now. We both had jobs. I was working and I was working at Hardee's, but they won't hire me back."
Turnbo says all of that and more has left him turning for help at the Decatur Housing Authority.
"So, we're here now because we're also homeless and we're trying to get a place."
When residents walk into DHA, they'll get handed an application. They typically have less than a day to fill it out because they're competing with hundreds of others for a housing unit.
"There's a great demand for affordable housing all across the country."
Jim Alpi is the executive director of DHA. He says the demand is high for those who need affordable housing.
"Decatur, we have according to the 2010 census, about 5,000 families renting in excess of 30% of their income."
Alpi says the state's economy and the federal government have left them short-handed.
"Two years ago, they cut 20% out of your program and 40% of all the administrative part of that, so that resulted in a lot of housing authorities."
He says only about ten percent of the federal funding has been restored, but they need help from homeowners.
"Many of the landlords in the past who have helped in that program aren't there anymore."
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition Report indicates there are 425,000 extremely low-income renters in Illinois and a shortage of more than 300,000 affordable housing units.