How Common is Hoarding?

Hoarding is defined as a mental health disorder, according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Hoarding is exemplified by a persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions. A hoarder has some powerful perceived need to maintain possession of these items. Indeed, a hoarder experiences profound distress when thinking about parting with possessions. Ultimately, excessive accumulation of items occurs, regardless of whether or not the hoarded items have any value whatsoever.

Overview of Hoarding Statistics

Approximately 5 percent of the population worldwide is classified as suffering from hoarding disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, of NAMI. The reality is that determining the percentage of people who hard is highly problematic.

Hoarding is a mental health disorder that “flies under the radar” in many instances. There are innumerable instances of hoarding, including across Los Angeles, that have yet to detected and recognized. A vast majority of hoarders strive mightily to keep their activities concealed from others.

Although those involved in working to ascertain an estimate of the number of people who hoard understand the hidden nature of this disorder, they remain hard pressed to confirm a completely reliable percentage of people who do hoard in Los Angeles, throughout California, across the country, let alone internationally.

75 percent of hoarders engage in excessive buying. For example, they will purchase the same item multiple time. If money permits, it is not out of the realm of possibility for a hoarder to attempt to purchase all of the same item that a merchant might have in stock.

The three-quarters of hoarders that engage in this type of buying activity can place significant stress on their financial status. With that noted, hoarding does span across all economic classifications.

50 percent of hoarders collect excessive amounts of free items. In some cases, hoarders end up collecting or accumulating trash.

Gender and Hoarding

An estimated 70 percent of all hoarders are women. This statistic appears to hold through across the United States, including in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. These tend to be women who are:

  • Single, divorced, or widowed
  • Have suffered an emotional trauma in their lives

Oftentimes, a woman who ends up hoarding does not begin the process until after she loses a significant other through death or divorce. More often than not, a female hoarder is over the age of 50.

Less is known about men who hoard, except that far fewer males suffer for this disorder than do women. Male hoarders are typically older and single.

No matter the gender, unless a person obtains professional mental health assistance, there exists nearly a 100 percent chance that relapse will occur. In other words, some success may be had at cleaning up a hoard. In addition, a hoarder may not immediately begin hoarding after an initial cleanup occurs. However, without professional mental health intervention and assistance, an individual will relapse and return to hoarding and typically do so in a fairly short period of time.

Animal Hoarding Statistics

Animal hoarding currently is classified as a subtype of hoarding generally. There is a growing amount of discussion among mental healthcare professionals that animal hoarding should be classified as its own mental health disorder and not be classified under hoarding more generally. This is based on the contention that animal hoarding has some unique features that are not necessarily shared with hoarding items.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 animal hoarders are reported to authorities across the United States annually. An estimated 250,000 animals are subjected to hoarding each year. 40 percent of object hoarders end up hoarding animals as well. A significant percentage of animal hoarders did not first hoard objects. Rarely will an initially exclusive animal hoarder begin hoarding objects.

Hoarding Resources in Los Angeles and Southern California

Department of Mental Health – ACCESS Center

(800) 854-7771

Information and referrals to local mental health system of care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes assistance for people afflicted with hoarding disorder.

Adult Protective Services

(877) 477-3646

Investigation as well as crisis intervention for older, dependent, and mentally impaired adults. This includes individuals suffering from hoarding disorder. Telephone line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Self-Help and Recovery

(310) 305-8878 Referrals to hoarding and other self-help support groups in Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California.