Seal Beach is a beautiful, coastal city nestled in Orange County, California. And when you think “California,” Seal Beach is most likely what comes to mind. With shady palm trees, warm, year-round weather and happy residents, Seal Beach is loved by tourists and locals alike. Seal Beach was previously a hotspot of agriculture. The city was famous for its delicious Valencia oranges and other citrus groups that were sent out nationwide. In addition, Seal Beach was famous for its industrial manufacturing, and many old factories still stand today. Still, Seal Beach has grown as a distinct hub of modernization and community. Take a walk down Commonwealth Ave, Seal Beach’s downtown area, and you’ll never be bored. With small boutiques intermingled with luxury shops, restaurants and bakeries, Seal Beach offers a little something for everyone at any budget. As of the 2010 census, Seal Beach’s population was 135,161. That number is expected to continue to grow in the upcoming years, as more and more people migrate to this diverse area for work and school. But, with increased growth also comes an increase in the amount of an issue faced by many nationwide: property hoarding.

Property hoarding may not be immediately noticeable, especially in a beautiful area such as Seal Beach. You may not even realize the extent of a hoarder’s problem until it becomes visible within a neighborhood. But, anyone, regardless of race, gender or age can experience property hoarding. While this issue may not seem serious, it can hurt both the hoarder and the community if not addressed, and may ward off potential new residents. In 2011, a Seal Beach woman was featured on A&E’s popular reality show, “Hoarders.” The woman, named only as “Lisa,” had a very serious hoarding problem. At one time, she owned 30 cats and had a home filled with items taken from dumpsters. In addition, her backyard was strewn with clutter, and relegated unusable by the crew. Unfortunately, Lisa was unable to complete the cleanup of her home. Though she initially agreed to appear on the show and allow a professional property hoarder cleanup crew into her home, she later backtracked and refused support. Because animals were on the property and being possibly mistreated, Seal Beach Animal Care was asked to get involved. It is currently unknown if Lisa ever received treatment or completed the cleanup of her home. 

What Is Hoarding?

It is important to note from the start that hoarding is usually not a conscious decision. It is a diagnosed psychological disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The APA characterizes hoarding as “excessively saving items that others may view as worthless.” There is also usually a persistent difficulty or unwillingness to get rid of these possessions, leading to excessive clutter and an inability to otherwise live life as normal. Hoarding is also different than simply collecting specific items. Hoarders usually collect items at random and save them due to perceived sentimental value. Unfortunately, hoarding can have serious consequences that may even reach a life-threatening stage. Besides causing tension and strain in a hoarder’s relationships, hoarding can also lead to health and safety concerns such as fire hazards, animal infestation and other blockades within the house, making the space inhabitable.

How Does Hoarding Become Common in Seal Beach, CA?

Hoarding is perhaps more common than we may think. 2 to 6 percent of the population meets the symptoms of hoarding, and it unfortunately affects the hoarder’s entire network of friends and family. Because Murrieta, CA is a populous, residential community home to thousands of people, hoarding may become more common. Though it is widely unknown what exactly causes a person to hoard, it can be due to a traumatic life event in a person’s life or abnormal brain functionalities. Some other symptoms include:

Lasting problems with throwing away possessions.

Items fill, block and clutter living spaces to the point of being unusable.

What Does a Hoarding Cleanup Company Do?

Helping a hoarder return their home to a usable, safe living space is no simple task. Many family members of hoarders find they cannot effectively help the person on their own, as many hoarders do not want to disclose the extent of the problem or even believe that they have a problem. Hoarding can create years and years of clutter buildup that family members are simply not equipped to clean on their own. There can also be serious biohazard concerns in the house, such as human and animal waste, that require medical grade sanitization materials. The best recommended course of action is to consult a psychologist as well as a professional hoarder property cleaning company to begin the cleanup and healing process. This company should be registered with the State of California Department of Health.

A professional hoarder property cleaning company will first determine the level of hoarding, as determined by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization’s Clutter-Hoarding scale. This scale ranges from 1 to 5, with 5 determining a house to be virtually unlivable. From there, the company will then also determine the scenario at hand and which strategy to employ. These scenarios include cleaning up the residence of the hoarder, cleaning up after a hoarder passes away and animal hoarding. If the first scenario is in play, a professional company will strive to help the hoarder remain as comfortable as possible as the cleanup begins, allowing them to be an active participant in the process.

A company will begin hoarder property cleaning by removing all biohazard materials immediately with the proper tools, such as goggles, a mask or respirator and disposable gloves and shoe covers. Biohazards pose the greatest threat and must be disposed of first, even if the hoarder objects. Animal hoarding introduces a whole new threat of biohazard material, including feces and urine and unfortunately, in many cases, the remains of dead animals. The sheer gravity of these challenges necessitates the professional assistance of a hoarder property cleanup company that is highly experienced and adequately trained to amend this unique situation. In addition, a thorough, deep cleaning will most likely prevent the hoarder from falling into the same patterns of retaining items and living in a cluttered space. If you or a loved one is struggling with property hoarding, consider reaching out to a professional therapist for help.