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Community Hoarding Issues


For Program Information Call

Vince Caraffi, RS, MPH
Cuyahoga County Board of Health
(216) 201-2000 ext. 1209

Hoarding is “a mental illness that may cause significant distress or impairment as a result of the acquisition and or the failure to discard an extreme number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value to other people.” Living or work spaces can become so cluttered that they can’t be utilized as intended. This can result in hazardous conditions for the person who hoards, their family members, their neighbors, or for anyone visiting the dwelling or workplace.

Hoarding situations are often first discovered when a person becomes ill and requires home health care, when an emergency first-responder enters the home to deal with an emergency, when a utility company enters a home to deal with a problem or read a meter, or through a neighbor or family member lodging a complaint. Reality television shows dealing with this issue have recently grown in popularity which may indicate an overall increase in the general population’s awareness of this serious problem.

Recognizing the growing significance through awareness and an increase in hoarding nuisance complaints, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) became a partner with the Cuyahoga County Hoarding Connection (CCHC). This group’s mission is to provide support and advice, develop best practices, and assist in identifying needed resources for individuals who hoard and those who may be assisting them. CCBH is also working closely with community officials to set up localized task forces to handle effective response to hoarding situations and to help address the needs of the individuals and community.

Things We Do

  • Our staff works with our communities and partners (Cuyahoga County Hoarding Connection)
  • We help develop best practices
  • Assist in identifying needed resources
  • Work with cities to establish localized task forces to address needs of the community and the individual
  • Assist in the collection of data to determine hoarding incidence and prevalence
  • Create reports and document extent of hoarding

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, along with the Hoarding Connection, is engaged in a first-of-its-kind effort to determine the incidence and prevalence of severe hoarding within a large geographic area (i.e., Cuyahoga County). A data collection form has been developed as part of that effort. Mental health professionals, care providers, public safety personnel and others are being trained throughout the county to take part in the data collection effort.

Training sessions are being held to assist people on the proper use of this data collection form. For information on upcoming training, please visit the Hoarding Connection website.

For more information on the Hoarding Connection of Cuyahoga County, contact:

Bert Rahl
Director of Mental Health Services
Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

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