Philly gets its own Hoarding Task Force

An image of a hoarder's home. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
An image of a hoarder’s home. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) and the Mayor’s Office are working to better coordinate assistance for people who hoard, CLS announced Thursday.

The new Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force will aim to better inform city employees in agencies like DHS, the Fire Department, and the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services about how to work with hoarders.

“The root causes behind the hoarding could be really widespread; it could be dementia, actual hoarding disorder, a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or it could be the result of a physical disability,” said CLS paralegal David Wengert.

“What we often see is it’s coming from trauma or a really serious event in the person’s life,” he added. “Their way of coping with that event is the positive feelings of collecting, and then they really want to avoid the negative they like the feeling of having things around them it’s such an awful feeling of getting rid of things the potential loss is so huge in their mind.”

One task that the new Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force is to develop a resource manual. Another idea is to create a hotline for people with a hoarding problem.

“Hoarders who want help don’t even reach out. Those who want help don’t even know where to go to get it,” Wengert said. “Long term, there needs to be some sort of ongoing help with the ongoing physical removal of things.”

How hoarding happens.

Studies show that about 2 to 5 percent of the population has a tendency towards hoarding. It’s also more common among the elderly.

Hoarding is listed as a disorder in the DSM-V.



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