When you get into the real estate field, you see a wide variety of homes and homeowners. You see the ups and downs of home ownership, and you also see the darker side….the side no one wants to see. The closed up windows, the doors that never seem to open. Your neighbor who is friendly, but never seems to let anyone in….ever.
Hoarding is a world wide problem, more prolific and rampant in some areas of the world than others. Some homes you can’t help but know that behind that exterior lays a world of clutter, lost memories, unhealthy living conditions, and emotional pain and turmoil. These people are teachers, bankers, postal workers, parents, grandparents, married, single, social, reclusive. Help is available, it’s getting that help that is a problem.
In The Dalles, Oregon and surrounding areas, help for hoarders is a scarce resource, with only a scant number of mental and behavioral health professionals, many who are not trained in this specific area. Services to help clean and control the clutter are also severely limited, with only one professional organizer (that I know of) to serve Eastern Oregon. The nearest professional help that concentrates on hoarders is over an hour West in the Portland Metro area.
Real estate professionals, mental and home health services, senior/disabled and child welfare services, emergency service personnel, utility workers, animal welfare and control officers, family members, neighbors….all are left feeling baffled and defeated when they try to tackle this monumental task by themselves, to help their friend or loved one. Many don’t even attempt to help because they fear legal ramifications if they bring in outside services and assistance.
The Hoarding Council of the Columbia Gorge is working to change the way society sees and responds to hoarders, by working with community members, businesses and services, to bring outside services, support and education to our area. For more information, contact Lynette O’Brien or go to Hoarding Council of the Columbia Gorge.