How Widespread Is the Problem?
A 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times notes that “no one keeps statistics on on hoarding, but more and more jurisdictions nationwide are forming special teams to deal with what appears to be a growing problem.”
On July 16, 2010, a more recent Los Angeles Time article noted the following statistics. “Hoarding statistics: A July 17 It’s All Relative column said as many as 6 million people, or 1 in 20, may be affected by hoarding, according to the book “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.” Actually, epidemiology studies show a range: from 1 in 50 people in the U.S., or 6 million, to 1 in 20 people, or 15 million, according to the author, Gail Steketee.”
The popularity of the two new TV shows and a lot of chatter suggest that the problem is, indeed, mountaining up.
What Does the Law Say?
Municipalities and local court systems face confusion and conflicting laws and enforcement capabilities in trying to clean up the mess. The 1999-2000 Hoarding Task Force Report from Dane County, Wisconsin, brought together the Madison Public Health Department, the Building Inspection Office, the Cunty Sheriff’s Department, the Board of Supervisors, the State Elder Abuse and Neglect Office, senior services agencies, local organizing consultants, the County Mental Halth Center, the Maidson Gas and Electric Company, the Long Term Support and Adult Protective Services Units, and private home health and personal care agencies.
This brief abstract published by a hospital in Hartford, CT, demonstrates the economic and social burdens of compulsive hoarding.
A neighbor who hoards may well be mentally ill, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those of us who must see, smell, hear, and attempt to avoid the series of home invasions that can erupt from this condition. Animal hoarding, for example, is especially serious due to the unsanitary conditions for both the hoarder and the neighbors.
Clearly, hoarding is a spreading problem and most certainly one of “The Other Home Invasions.”