Hoarding isn’t something to joke about

Hoarding is a serious problem. Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition in which you have a strong need to save a large number of items and experience distress when attempting to get rid of them. Hoarding disorder is treatable with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Having too much stuff isn’t a mental illness. Hoarding goes way beyond too much stiff and alters the way people live. It destroys houses and ruins lives.

People who hoard can not easily stop or get rid of enough of their belongings so that they can safely live in their houses. A hoarding disorder is classified classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. (OCD)

Sometimes a hoarder will gather so many items that they are stacked up to the ceilings in every room. The weight of all of these items can cause structural damage. Stuff gets piled up against doors and windows until there is only one way in or out of the house.

If the pile of items gets wet as can easily happen with a small leak in the plumbing they become even heavier and provide an excellent place for mold to grow. As the house deteriorates it can rot from the inside out.  Mice and rats can easily get in.

Hoarding disorder is more likely to affect people over 60 years old and people with other mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression.

We live in a society and in a world that is aging. I fear that we will see more houses destroyed by hoarding. The city of St. Paul has an approach that in some cases takes decades and by the time action is taken the house isn’t salvageable. Giving the owner fines for huge amounts of money isn’t helping at all. In fact, it is likely that our tax dollars in St. Paul are being used to pay city inspectors to supervise the slow disintegration of the houses of hoarders.



This photo was taken on private property with the property owner’s permission. The yard has been cleaned up since the photo was taken. Dead animals were found in the debris. Some of the storage bins were filled with water as they sat in the rain. The double doors were and probably still are blocked inside and outside.

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