Join me, 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, and the Chicago Department of Public Health for an information session about hoarding next Thursday, August 20th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Edgewater Public Library, 6000 N Broadway. Free and open to all, this session is designed to help landlords, condominium associations, caregivers, and people who may recognize symptoms of hoarding in themselves.
In the past several years, my office has seen a steady increase in the number of calls requesting assistance with hoarding. Other service providers, aldermanic offices, and emergency responders have noted the same trend; we all have felt ill equipped to adequately handle these problems.
My office, along with Alderman Osterman’s office, began convening regular meetings of what has become known as the Help for Hoarding Collaborative (HHC). Consisting of the 48th and 49th Ward service offices, housing officers from the 24th Police District, and many healthcare providers, senior wellness specialists, and local agencies, the HHC provides community service providers with resources to know how to handle hoarding cases.
What is hoarding disorder?
Hoarding disorder is a mental health disorder with symptoms that include an overwhelming compulsion to save items of little to no value and extreme anxiety when faced with the threat of needing to discard these items. Once thought to be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) now describes hoarding as its own condition. Those who suffer from hoarding disorder may face serious secondary effects as a result of the disease, including an inability to take care of their basic needs.
“Why can’t you just throw this away?”
From a practical point of view, hoarding presents dramatic problems in a person’s home, as accumulated possessions make it impossible to move about or even enter. Unable to part with newspapers, take-out containers, expired pantry items, and trash, those suffering from hoarding disorder are vulnerable to eviction and homelessness. Landlords, condo associations, and family members are often ill-equipped to offer the long-term intensive services necessary to assist the patient in clearing out their belongings to a reasonable degree.
The first part of this seminar, designed by the Chicago Department of Public Health and presented by clinical therapist Dan Bader, will help laypeople understand the symptoms and effects of the disease. This background helps anyone attempting to assist someone suffering from hoarding disorder, and our team of experts from the Hoarding Collaborative will be on hand to offer practical advice and make referrals to agencies that provide assistance.
I hope you can attend this informative session.