Hoarding – A Growing Problem with Emerging Solutions

Over the past several years, the problem of hoarding has come to light in our community, and across the country. According to the Mayo Clinic, Hoarding Disorder is “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/basics/definition/con-20031337). Hoarders collect many items in their home; often things that other would consider garbage, including newspapers, cans, wrappers, and mail. Hoarding is not limited to garbage, and can include tchotchkes and even animals.   Television programs broadcast the stories of those who hoard as entertainment, but the consequences of hoarding can be serious. There are some cases in which people have collected so many items that their homes literally collapse onto them (See http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Cheshire-Police-Investigate-Untimely-Death-Body-Home-263199041.html)

Hoarding does not only affect the hoarder, and the unsafe conditions may be in violation of housing laws and building codes. This can also create problems with neighbors and/or landlords. However, Erie County is addressing this problem through the Erie County Coalition on Hoarding (“ECCOH”). The Coalition brings together a variety of community agencies and stakeholders, including Legal Services for the Elderly, to discuss how to address this problem, encourage collaboration and communication, and create a referral network to help those who may be struggling with hoarding and its consequences. More information can be found in the brochure on the county website, or by calling 716-858-8526.

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