Live or lease: The impossible choice — groceries, utilities or bills?
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SAVANNAH, Ga. () — As we have heard, the rising cost of housing is causing many of us to alter our household budgets and pick and choose.

The choice to eat or have a place to sleep — it’s a question that many regularly face. News 3 spoke with locals about making ends meet when faced with the choice between putting put on the table or covering their utilities — living or leasing.

“You got to pick one you got to have a choice of if you want to eat or do you want somewhere to live or do you want the power on,” Freddie Irvin.

Many are faced with this decision more often than not. According to the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) summary published by the United Way, over three million households in Georgia had income below the ALICE threshold of financial survival. That means 47% of Georgia households struggle to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, utilities, childcare, food, transportation, health care, technology, and miscellaneous; In Chatham County, that number is 45%.

“The cost of living is kind of high and it’s kind of rough to pay the bills even with the little job you got it’s still not enough to make ends meet several times I have had to go to a church to get food just to make ends meet the job rate or the job economy it doesn’t keep up with the cost of living,” a Savannah resident told News 3.

Our digital team posed this question on News 3’s Facebook page:

Have you ever had to choose between paying for a household bill and groceries?

The overwhelming response out of 300 comments: Yes. We spoke to one woman who told News 3 that she’s forced to make a choice more often than not.

“It’s hard in choosing to feed my children our internet has been turned off while I was in the process of trying to find employment I mean you would think that being retired from the army with a master’s degree it would be easy to find employment but I have been unemployed since September so my phone has been cut off we are in the process of getting a car reposed right now just so I can put food on the table groceries and those are the first things I make sure to pay because if I don’t then someone is going to have to go without,” Angie Zalinsky explained.

Speaking of housing costs, Savannah ranks ninth as the least affordable city in the United States making only 14% of housing rentals in the city affordable. However, the United Way is hoping to help you stay in your home by providing resources.

“Our 211 information and referral specialist will identify for them programs and services that are available to help them and the interesting thing is that it rarely one thing so someone may call because they need help with their utility deposit but in truth that is just one aspect of their many struggles,” Brynn Grant, President and CEO United Way Coastal Empire told News 3.

For more information on United Way programs that may be able to help, dial 211 or click or tap here.

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