December 14, 12:53 PMAtlanta Low Income Issues ExaminerDannis Cole
The holidays can be very stressful for anyone when you consider the costs of presents, lights, tree decorations, and feeding extra relatives. This is multiplied for low income families. Tight budgets can lead to overspending and credit debt.
Don't reach for the credit card. Use your debit card as a credit. Most debit cards have plans you can sign up with for free through your bank, or online if you have a computer; don't use public computers as in libraries for anything connected with your finances. Then, you can use the points for various things from their catalog.
Keep a firm check on your finances. Consider gifts of service rather than things. Instead of wrapping paper, why not just use newspaper [comics are good] or a grocery bag? Remember, it's the thought that counts.
Also, many agencies offer Santa programs to help supply gifts to mostly the children, though some include fixings for dinner and maybe gifts for adults, too. You can check with the United Way to see if these services are available. You might need to supply proof of your income such as utility bills, Food Stamp letter, etc.
There are also Christmas programs for the homeless. Check with United Way. If in metro Atlanta, you may dial 211 from a phone. Many churches offer assistance to low income families of any faith. United Way is a referral service, and they have lists of phone numbers and websites where you can try to get help. There are day shelters where the homeless can use a phone, get a shower, and have a warm place to rest between job hunting, or just to stay until your shelter opens its doors again [some, like Salvation Army, make all residents leave after breakfast, and they may return for supper]. Soup kitchens are in various locations, and the disabled often make use of them if they are not housebound, to cut down on their food budget. No questions are asked, just come and enjoy a meal.
It can be very difficult to find a place in a shelter, and the average stay is only three weeks. The next stop, for those lucky enough to get places for them [and maybe, their families], is transitional housing. This, too, is difficult to get into. Those who graduate from transitional housing to housing adjusted to income usually move into either subsidized [mixed-income] housing or traditional public housing. It is not necessary to wait for shelter or transitional housing space, to apply for housing through HUD. The links here are to HUD's search engines for each.
Check out the page on Examiner.com for links to all sorts of help! Links to the right, under the ad blocks, are your key to finding low income services of all sorts in metro Atlanta.