Task Forces Tackle Dangerous—and Disgusting—Hoarding

California team has been trained to fight gag reflex
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2013 12:47 PM CDT
Task Forces Tackle Dangerous—and Disgusting—Hoarding
A worker is shown during a cleanup of a hoarder's home in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/City of Las Vegas via Las Vegas Review-Journal)

(Newser) – How'd you like to spend your days walking on piles of newspapers soaked with rat urine, helping hoarders clear their houses of not just junk but often gross junk, from mildewed papers to bottles of urine? That's what the members of California's Orange County Task Force on Hoarding do, and today the New York Times offers an inside look at the team's challenges, which range from learning to talk to hoarders to figuring out the best route out of a hoarder's home. The team consists of people from various fields, including a fire inspector and city code official. "No one discipline has all the expertise needed," says a social work professor.

story continues below

It's just one of more than 85 such task forces that have sprung up around the country, as local officials look to protect hoarders and their neighbors from the risks such houses pose: Utilities may get shut off after bills get lost, prompting the use of candles and heightening fire risk; with no running water, sufferers may use bottles and their yards as bathrooms, bringing in the threat of disease via rats and maggots. The Orange County task force has learned to suppress gagging while on the job. Then there's the cost involved in cleanup, with the messiest homes costing at least $20,000 to clean up, says the fire inspector, who has also had to tangle with armed hoarders and their dogs. Click through for the full piece. (Read more hoarders stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.