A task force assigned to helping people with possible hoarding issues is changing directions to better help those-in-need.

The Livingston County Hoarding Task Force was created 18 months ago by representatives from in-home care, emergency services staff, mental health staff, and businesses that work on hoarding organization and clean up. In their time they have assessed the local problem, gathered home codes and fire safety standards, and developed a series of educational handouts. Community Collaborative Planner Anne Rennie said the most important thing they have learned is that hoarding is often misunderstood, with people judging without knowing the whole picture. She said there are components of mental health that can factor in as part of the disorder. Sometimes physical limitations, like older age, can cause a homeowner to look like they are hoarding, when in fact they are unable to put things back where they belong because of their physical state.

As a result of these findings, the task force’s new direction is about respect and communication with individuals so they can help them find ways to help themselves. After an initial screening, task force members will be able to help homeowners connect to resources and clean up companies that can help. As hoarding is not illegal, it will be the homeowner’s choice to accept help. More information and the task force’s series of 10 handouts can be found at https://www.livgov.com/hscb/Pages/LC-Hoarding-Task-Force.aspx. (MK)