What is Hoarding?

The acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be of useless or of limited value.
Hoarding often presents as living spaces that are so cluttered that they cannot be used for their intended purpose. This can often cause significant distress or impairment in functioning (e.g. can’t use kitchen or bathroom, problems with landlord, fights with family).

Signs of Hoarding?

  • A large amount of clutter in the office, at home, in the car, or in other spaces that make it difficult to use furniture, appliances or move around easily
  • Losing important items like money or bills in the clutter
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Being unable to stop taking free items
  • Buying items because they are a bargain or to stock up
  • Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment
  • Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs

If you can answer yes to these questions, you (or someone you know) may be struggling with hoarding.

Harm Reduction Information

What is a Harm Reduction Approach?

Harm Reduction
  • Severe hoarding has put the individual living in the dwelling, or living in the shared area at great risk
  • The risk of harm is high not only because the living environment is unsafe but also because the person lacks the physical and mental capacity to live in a highly cluttered environment safely
  • This interaction between an unsafe environment and poor functional capacity defines severe hoarding

(Tompkins & Hartl, 2009)

Harm Reduction involves…
  • Ensuring the person is kept safe and healthy
  • Making sure that high risk areas are identified and attended to
  • Providing for a new system to maintain organization and safety
Harm Reduction does NOT…
  • Stopping the acquiring all together
  • Curing the individual
  • Conducting large scale cleanups

Learn More About Hoarding

Why do people hoard?

People hoard for many reasons, including:

  • Mental Health conditions: Depression, Personality disorders, Psychosis, OCD
  • To avoid fear, scarcity and/or maintain the feeling of control
  • We feel powerful and capable or protecting ourselves by owning possessions
  • Just in case the item MUST be saved because it could be useful in the future
  • Grief based; sentimental – the items mean a lot to that person
  • Trauma and loss
What can people hoard?
  • Anything!
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Clothes
  • Receipts
  • Craft Supplies
  • Animals/wildlife
  • Sentimental Items
  • Bodily waste
  • Bugs
  • Food