What would you do if you had to choose?

Many Georgians face tough choices to make ends meet. Try putting yourself in their shoes.

Many people think homelessness and hunger are personal failings. But with rising housing costs and inflation, simple economics are often to blame.


Our Tough Choices exercise makes it easy to see how everyday Georgians can quickly become housing and food-secure. At HOPE Atlanta, calls for help are increasing — especially among lower and fixed-income families like “Harold and Anita.”


They rely on our critical services and support to stay afloat. We need your help to answer the call. Take a walk in their shoes, then help us provide HOPE for these neighbors facing tough times.

Be a voice of HOPE for a brighter tomorrow. Provide the lifeline a family needs to avoid homelessness and hunger. ​

HOPE Atlanta helps prevent homelessness and hunger by not only providing rental assistance and food for people who are struggling, but also giving them the individualized support they need to overcome challenges and reclaim self-sufficiency.

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Interested in the numbers? Let’s dive in.

The household income we used was $3,151, which included Harold’s Social Security payment ($1,695) and Anita’s Disability payment ($1,456).


To calculate Social Security and Disability payments, We assumed Harold made above the average salary for a bus driver, $41,688, before he retired at age 65. Anita worked full-time during her career as a bookkeeper, earning $41,654 annually.

MARTA is not a viable transportation option for those not living within walking distance to train stations or bus stops.

We calculated their auto loan amount based on average used car prices in the U.S., including interest at current rates. We assumed they drove an average number of miles per year (14,263) in a vehicle that gets 24 MPG (also the U.S. average). In Fulton County at the time of this writing, the average gasoline price was $3.60/gal. Gasoline prices rose 25.6% in Georgia between 2021 and 2022.


Keep in mind that these transportation costs don’t include maintenance or repairs!

We used the current median rent prices for 30303, which was the ZIP we used in the previous version of this exercise.


Data from The Washington Post shows that rent prices in Fulton County rose 17.1% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2022.

Healthcare costs tend to increase as we age.


Even seniors who are covered by Original Medicare (Part A) must purchase additional coverage for prescriptions, dental, and other important healthcare expenses.

We looked at average premiums for Medicare Part D (prescription) coverage and average dental plan premiums to arrive at these numbers. Keep in mind that premiums and costs can vary widely, and Harold and Anita would still be responsible for meeting deductibles or partially covering certain visits and procedures.

We took the average household “food at from home” expenditure using BLS data and added 10.9% to account for inflation, per Consumer Price Index data. Keep in mind that this “grocery budget” includes food only and doesn’t account for other necessities, like toiletries. 

Here’s how we estimated the other monthly expenses.

For energy (electric/heat), we used the previous numbers based on BLS data and added accounted for inflation using Consumer Price Index data.


We used Georgia averages for other utilities found here. We assumed Harold and Anita are using a bare-bones cellular plan with two lines, and found the current costs here.


Who doesn’t love their pets? While pet ownership costs can vary widely, we found the average monthly pet ownership costs here and went with the lowest number in the range.

Clothing and other non-food necessities. The family in this scenario would need to find a way to secure these must-have items cheaply or through donations.


Renter’s insurance. Many apartment buildings require renters to carry renter’s insurance, which costs around $25 per month.

Emergency or savings account contributions. Every family needs an emergency fund. Unfortunately, with Harold and Anita’s income and the current living costs, it would be difficult to find extra money to put aside in savings.