San Clemente is one of the largest communities in Orange County. 40 years ago, San Clemente garnered a great deal of national, and even international, attention because President Richard Nixon’s home in the city became known as the Western White House. Today, San Clemente is the site of lovely residential neighborhoods and a wide array of different types of pleasant accouterments that make the city highly regarded.

Each year, there are situations that arise in San Clemente that involve people with hoarding disorder. Dealing with hoarding disorder has the potential for becoming an immensely challenging endeavor for all involved. This includes everyone from the hoarder to members of that individual’s family and even to professionals who’ve been called in to assist with the situation.

Hoarding disorder is defined by the Mayo Clinic as:

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.

Levels of Hoarding Disorder

San Clemente residents with hoarding disorder are classified on one of five levels depending on the severity of the condition. These levels are:

Level 1: A standard, normal residence with fully accessible stairways and doors. There may be minor evidence of pet accidents. There may be a slight presence of rodents or insects. The house may have some clutter, but nothing excessive. Sanitation at the premises is normal and there are no real odors.

Level 2: One exists out of the residence is blocked. One major appliance, the heater, or the air conditioner has not worked for over six months. There are pet waste and a pet order on the premises. There exists moderate evidence of insects or rodents. Two or more rooms are becoming unusable because of clutter. There is little real evidence of house cleaning, including sweeping and vacuuming. There is likely a moderate amount of mildew in the kitchen and bathrooms of the residence. Food prep areas are soiled. Garbage cans are overflowing. There are odors about the residence.

Level 3: Clutter has started to accumulate outside of the house. There are at least two appliances are not functioning. There are extension cords being utilized in an unsafe manner. There is slight structural damage to the house. There very well may be pets in the residence above the legal limit or the limit established by the Humane Society. There are evidence rats, including noises and rat droppings. One bedroom or bathroom is completely unusable because of clutter. Hazardous substances such as broken glass, chemical spills, or even rat droppings are present at the residence. The house has not been cleaned. Dirty launder is scattered throughout the residence.

Level 4: There are mold and mildew found throughout the residence. The house has structural damage. There are likely animals at the residence well in excess of local ordinances and standards maintained by the Humane Society. There is an animal waste, pet dander, and spider webs about the property. There is also likely evidence of rats, squirrels, bats, and raccoons around the house. Bedrooms have become unusable because of clutter. There are hazardous materials around the house. There are no clean dishes and the rotting food is found in the kitchen.

Level 5: The house has become virtually unlivable. There is structural damage. The house likely has no water, power, or sewer services. There is apt to be standing water at the premises. There is also signs of insect and rat infestation. Bathrooms and the kitchen are unusable. There are likely human waste and rotten food littering the premises. In order to pursue hoarder property cleanup, professional remediation assistance is needed. In addition, a person with hoarding disorder that has reached this stage also needs assistance from a mental health professional.

Capistrano Bay Counseling Center
616 S. El Camino Real, Suite G-2
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 369-1130

Evening Star Counseling
665 Camino De Los Mares, Suite 203
San Clemente, California 92673
(757) 695-3534

Gina Lukes
161 Avenida Cabrillo
San Clemente, California 92672
(949) 347-5275

Barbara Thomas
657 Canino De Los Mares, Suite 241
San Clemente, California 92673
(949) 383-4030

These therapists and counselors can assist individuals with hoarding disorders via individual therapy as well as group therapy. In addition, they also offer services to assist in planning and implementing an intervention in regard to a person with hoarding disorder. Reaching out to a hoarder to   They also can provide therapeutic assistance to a hoarder’s family if they are facing emotional issues arising out of addressing the needs of a family member who hoards.

Photo Courtesy of Grap.