Catholic agency sees 40 percent increase in calls for help

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is reporting a 40 percent increase in the number of calls from people seeking help as the country continues to struggle with the economy.

Not only is the increase a significant change from this time last year, according to executive director Susan Rauscher, but "we are also seeing an increase in the complexity of the situations."

Some who had been able to get from paycheck to paycheck are finding that the rising costs of gas, food and utilities "have put a significant strain on their income, which can no longer cover their expenses," she told the Pittsburgh Catholic, newspaper of the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Others have lost their job or suffered an illness or car-repair bill, causing "an upheaval in their ability to manage their budgets," she said.

Some, she said, "seem to have been simply pounded down by the current economic situation with shut-off notices, eviction notices and medical bills all pressing for payment immediately."

The agency is responding by "doing our best to simply be able to return all the phone calls. This alone has proven to be a monumental task," she said.