Risks caused by hoarding
Significant hoarding can put individuals who hoard and their family members at serious risk of heath problems, injury, removal of at-risk children or older adults from the home, homelessness or in the worst case, even death.
Homelessness can result if the local Department of Public Health must order the person out of or condemn the dwelling or if the landlord demonstrates in court that the level or type of hoarding seriously violates the lease. Shelters have also been known to bar individuals whose hoarding puts other shelter guests at risk.
Health problems include falls or accidents and inability of emergency personnel to enter or remove an ill person. Clutter, garbage, animal or human feces and resulting mold or infestation can also cause respiratory and other health problems. Lack of sanitation can be particularly unsafe for immunocompromised individuals. Ammonia levels from accumulations of urine and feces can easily exceed maximum occupational exposure limits, and can be harmful to persons with cardiac or respiratory dysfunction.
Blocked exits or heating vents can also pose a fire hazard and occasionally the nature or extent of hoarded items creates structural dangers due to excess weight. Hoarding of dangerous or flammable items poses great health and safety risks.
Risk to Children and Dependent Adults
The Department of Children and Families can remove children from a home that poses serious health and safety risks to them. The Disabled Persons Protection Commission may also take action on behalf of a dependent family member with a disability.
Improper care or neglect of animals can put people at risk of committing felony-level crimes, resulting in forfeiture of animals, fines, and imprisonment.
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