Hoarding is the extreme collection and storage of items in the home and or on the premises. Often there are only narrow pathways in the home bordered by combustible materials like newspapers, plastic bags, rubbish & clothes. Means of egress at doors and windows is often blocked and sometimes there may be an insect or rat infestation. Hoarding is sometimes associated with the long term neglect of home maintenance and the overflow accumulation of trash and junk in the yard. Animal hoarding is also a serious problem that in many cases poses a health threat to both the resident and animals involved. Many times the majority of hoarders find nothing wrong with their behavior. They tend to deny that there is a problem, minimize the problem or make excuses or promise to clean up.
Hoarding Support Services Team
The City of Virginia Beach has a Hoarding Support Services Team that is aimed at educating the public on the dangers of hoarding and addressing hoarding complaints of citizens. The team’s objective is to offer support services for individuals and families to prevent or resolve hoarding behaviors that present a risk to the adult or the community.
The team consists of:
- Department of Housing & Neighborhood Preservation's Code Enforcement Division
- Departments of Fire, Police, Emergency Medical Services and Animal Control
- Human Services' Social Services and Mental Health Divisions
- Department of Public Health
- Other community organizations that will assist. Click here for additional resources for hoarding.
The group collaborates to provide the adult with a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities each of the departments that may be involved in an individual referral and the services that are available from each of the departments and community.
If You Suspect Hoarding
If you think a family member might be a hoarder, try and assist them in getting professional help or guidance. There may be an underlying mental illness or medical condition that is in need of evaluation. Hoarders may become emotionally attached to everything and unable to distinguish trash from treasures or they may not realize they even have a problem and rarely seek treatment. There are resources available to help.
To report a hoarding situation or seek help, contact the Department of Human Services' Adult Protective Services Unit at 385-3550.
Code Enforcement has the responsibility of enforcing the Virginia Maintenance Code and the state minimum housing standards. Severe hoarding situations may need to be reported to Code Enforcement for an inspection and evaluation to determine if the property is safe. Failure to comply within the time allowed may result in legal action by the city to gain compliance. In extreme cases, the resident(s) may need to be relocated until the problems are corrected.