Hoarding >> Hoarders Buried Alive

hoarders By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst You asked for (1) a statutory definition of hoarders (other than animal hoarders ), (2) information on responses to hoarders in other states, and (3) any related Hoarders Buried Alive information to help a group establishing a hoarders task force. 

SUMMARY The only statutory definition of hoarders (other than animal hoarders ) we found was in Illinois law, which defines "hoarders " as the "acquisition and retention of large quantities of items and materials that produce an extensively cluttered living space, Hoarders Buried Alive which significantly impairs the performance of essential self-care tasks or otherwise substantially threatens life or safety" (320 Ill. Com. Stat. § 20/2). 

hoarders is often cited as a mental health issue, affecting some two to five percent of Americans, according to some studies. But it is also a public health and safety issue with social and financial implications, affecting not just the hoarders but the wider community as well. Increasingly, Hoarders Buried Alive communities nationwide have been establishing task forces to respond to hoarders issues and provide care and treatment for hoarders . 

This approach is viewed as more compassionate and effective than the more punitive approach (e.g., evictions) that typically characterizes responses to hoarders . According to Christina Bratiotis, member of Boston University's Compulsive hoarders Research Project team, at least 75 communities nationwide have formed hoarders task forces since Fairfax, Virginia, Hoarders Buried Alive established the first such task force in 1989 (http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarders /print.aspx?id=697). 

The Fairfax model (discussed below) is an on-going task force involving a variety of agencies (e.g., public health, public safety, and housing) and service providers, including housing code and public safety officials, social workers, and medical and mental health professionals. But task forces vary in their goals, composition, functions, and termination deadlines. 

A San Francisco task force worked on the hoarders issue for 19 months. Its comprehensive report is described below. Hoarders is generally defined as the excessive collection of large quantities of things, often of little or no value, and the inability to organize or discard them. It is a complex, debilitating disorder, which can impair normal functioning. 

Though often cited as a mental health illness, Hoarders Buried Alive compulsive hoarders is not listed in the current issue of the psychiatric profession's standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). (It is proposed for inclusion in DSM-5, due for release in 2013. 

Under the proposal being discussed, hoarders disorder symptoms would include struggling to part with personal possessions; accumulating objects to the point that they clutter living space, Hoarders Buried Alive preventing normal use; and suffering social, work, or other distress as a result of hoarders behaviors.) 

The number of compulsive hoarders in the country is unknown because many hoarders do not seek treatment. But some Hoarders Buried Alive studies estimate that two to five percent of Americans exhibit hoarders behaviors. A comprehensive 2009 San Francisco hoarders study estimated that 12,000 to 25,000 people in San Francisco struggle with hoarders behaviors. 

Hoarders behaviors pose hazards to hoarders and others, including families, neighbors, and service providers. Accumulated clutter from hoarders can increase the risk of (1) falls and other accidents; (2) fires; (3) eviction for code violations; (4) social isolation; Hoarders Buried Alive and (5) health problems from dirt, mold, mildew, pest and insect infestation, among other things. 

Hoarders has financial implications as well. The San Francisco study cited above estimated that it cost service providers, landlords, Hoarders Buried Alive and others in the city $6 million annually. TASK FORCES In 1989, Fairfax County, Virginia, established the first hoarders task force in the country. 

As public recognition of the hoarders problem has grown, other communities have followed suit. Massachusetts, for example, currently has task forces in more than 10 communities, including Beverly, Boston, Framingham, Gloucester, Merrimack Valley, and Newton. According to Bratiotis, the typical task force consists of many agencies working together with the common goal of providing "a directed and Hoarders Buried Alive managed response to hoarders cases." 

But their "mission, goals, and functions . . . are as different as the communities in which they operate [and] how they are formed, organized, and Hoarders Buried Alive maintained vary greatly" (http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarders /community_services.aspx). For example, some task forces consist solely of public agencies; some consist of public and private entities. 

Some task forces are formed to respond to hoarders cases that affect a specific population, such as the elderly (e.g., the Merrimack Valley task force in Massachusetts and Dane County task force in Wisconsin); others are established to achieve set goals and Hoarders Buried Alive commit to a specific timeline for meeting those goals (e.g., the San Francisco task force). 

FAIRFAX COUNTY TASK FORCE The Fairfax task force is an ongoing interagency team responsible for providing a coordinated response to cases of residential hoarders threatening life and Hoarders Buried Alive property. Representative entities include the departments of Health, Fire and Rescue, Family Services, Housing and Community Development, Planning and Zoning, Public Works, and Environmental Services; Fairfax County Police Department; Church Community Services; County Attorney's Office; and the Sherriff's Office. 

The full task force meets quarterly; a sub group representing several key agencies meets monthly. According to the March 2009 task force report, Fairfax County jurisdictions can expect approximately 350 cases of hoarders per 100,000 people. A copy of the report is attached Hoarders Buried Alive and also available at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/trash/hoarders /hoarders _annual_report. 

SAN FRANCISCO TASK FORCE One of the more comprehensive hoarders studies was conducted by the San Francisco Task Force on Compulsive hoarders and Cluttering. The task force was established in 2007 as a public-private partnership with representatives from major city departments, nonprofit housing entities, service providers, landlords, Hoarders Buried Alive and individuals with hoarders behaviors. 

The task force was a joint initiative of the Department of Aging and Adult Services and the San Francisco Mental Health Association. Its specified goals were to: 1. assess the needs of and services required by hoarders and identify service gaps and Hoarders Buried Alive barriers, 2. identify best practices to improve service delivery and prevent evictions, 

3. raise public and policy makers' awareness of the issue, 4. facilitate information exchange among various service providers to improve service linkages and coordination, and 5. recommend policies addressing the issue. Over a 19-month period, Hoarders Buried Alive the task force collaborated with private and public agencies as well as hoarders . 

The task force found the following: 1. Based on the 2006 census data, between 12,000 to 25,000 people in San Francisco struggle with compulsive hoarders . 2. hoarders creates many serious safety concerns, such as risk of fire, falls, and pest infestation. 3. hoarders use a wide range of public and Hoarders Buried Alive private services, including behavioral, mental and public health, fire and police, building and housing, environmental, cleaning, and legal. 

4. Responses to hoarders behaviors cost service providers, landlords, and others in the city of San Francisco approximately $6 million annually. Task Force Recommendations To improve local response to compulsive hoarders , Hoarders Buried Alive the task force recommended that the appropriate entities undertake the following activities: 

1. establish an assessment/crisis team to respond to hoarders reports and coordinate steps to facilitate meaningful, long-term improvement for hoarders ; 2. increase hoarders ' access to treatment, therapists, organizers, coaches, Hoarders Buried Alive and peers by creating hoarders treatment groups; 

3. expand local support groups for hoarders ; 4. create a service guide for hoarders and their families, service providers, and landlords and establish a single referral form and a single point of entry into the system; 5. develop health and fire code compliance guidelines for property managers Hoarders Buried Alive and tenants and develop training for landlords on how to use the guidelines; 

6. hire clinical social workers to provide intensive case management and supportive services to clients in their homes and Hoarders Buried Alive provide long-term case management services to supplement initial assessment and treatment; 7. offer training in hoarders issues for hoarders ' relatives, mental health personnel, landlords, and specified others; and 

8. name a paid "hoarders and cluttering czar" to, among other things, coordinate and evaluate the effectiveness of hoarders programs, ensure that resources and services are accessible to hoarders and and others, and Hoarders Buried Alive track implementation of the task force recommendations.

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