The Mayo Clinic provides a succinct and widely utilized definition of hoarding disorder:
Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distresses at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.
An estimated 2 to 5 percent of the population of Los Angeles is thought to be afflicted with hoarding disorder. Some experts in the field of treating hoarding disorder estimate that this number actually could be higher due to the secretive nature of hoarding, particularly in the early stages of the condition.
Typical Scenario Involving the Development of Hoarding Disorder
There is a fairly typical scenario involving the development of a hoarding disorder involving a resident of Los Angeles. There tends to be some sort of traumatic event in a person’s life, like the death of a loved one. This results in the onset of a mental health issue like anxiety or depression.
Following the onset of anxiety or depression, a person begins to accumulate items, many of which have no value. Over time, more and more of these items are collected until the livable space in a residence decreases to nothing.
Professional Assistance for Hoarder Property Cleanup in Los Angeles
Due to the nature of hoarding, different types of professionals typically are needed to address the various aspects of the disorder and to get a hoarder firmly on a lasting path of recovery. These professionals include therapists or counselors as well as hoarder property cleanup specialists.
A hoarder property cleanup in Los Angeles specialists has the expertise to address all aspects of dealing with an accumulated hoard. This includes addressing the remediation of any and al biohazards that may exist because of unsanitary conditions at the premises.
The Criminalization of Hoarding in Los Angeles
In some instances, a Los Angeles hoarder has faced being charged with a crime. One situation in which this occurs is when a person hoards animals. In such a case, a hoarder can face criminal charges associated with animal cruelty.
In addition, there have been Los Angeles hoarding cases when a person has been charged with these crimes:
- Maintaining or creating a public nuisance
- Willfully failing to perform a legal duty to remove a public nuisance
- Maintaining, permitting, or allowing a public nuisance to exist on the property that a person owns or controls
While these crimes typically involve the hoarder, take note that the owner of the property can also be charged with a crime if a public nuisance exists because of the hoarding. The question regarding all of these cases is what constitutes a public nuisance. Generally speaking, when hoarding progresses to a point that the exterior of a residence begins to decay, and items end up strewn about the exterior of the property, a public nuisance can be said to exist.
The reality is that hoarding cases typically do not result on actual prosecution of a hoarder, or even a property owner (if the hoarder is a tenant), threats of prosecution are not uncommon in Los Angeles.
Probably the most notorious case of the criminalization of hoarding involved the once majestic mansion called Grey Gardens and its owners, Edith and Edith Bouvier Beale (a mother and daughter with the same first name and commonly referred to as Big Edie and Little Edie). They received citations and a threat of prosecution for creating a nuisance as a result of hoarding (including cats) and the overall horrific state of their estate.
The Bouvier name may sound familiar – as it should. Big Edie was former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s aunt, Little Edie her cousin. Kennedy and her own sister, Lee Radziwell, stepped up and provided the funds and other resources to remediate the hoarding situation at Grey Gardens and return the estate to a livable condition.
Los Angeles Hoarding Task Force
LA has a Hoarding Task Force. According to the Los Angeles Hoarding Task Force, the organization exists to establish “a collaboration between private and public agencies to learn how to better assist with hoarding cases. They typically are not an enforcement agency, but more of a group that gathers to learn as much as they can about this debilitating disorder. Most hoarding task forces hold monthly meetings that are open attendance to government employees, private organizations, nonprofit organizations as well as the general public.”
The Los Angeles Hoarding Task Force can provide invaluable assistance when the need arises to address a hoarding situation. Because addressing the needs of a person with hoarding disorder, access to these multifaceted resources in one location aids in effectively assisting a loved one who hoards. The LA task force can be reached at:
Los Angeles Hoarding Task Force
550 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Monthly meetings of the task force are held in the sixth-floor conference room.