Hoarding and Homelessness

As hoarding becomes a popular subject in primetime television, it has become clear to most that there is a link between hoarding and poverty.  What is less often seen is that hoarding is actually a frequent cause of (re)homelessness.

Here’s the picture: A woman living in poverty is experiencing violence from her partner, she finally flees to the women’s shelter.  She spends 6 months between 2 shelters, and because she falls within   the high need category, gets ‘quickly’ into subsidized housing, a 1 bedroom apartment.  Over the years she starts to collect things, and hang onto them.  Having lived in poverty her whole life, she sees everything as valuable, and can’t stand to get rid of anything.  Eventually the landlord starts receiving complaints about odours, and orders her to clean up on risk of eviction.  She does not clean up, and although an underlying mental illness is suspected, she has never been diagnosed and receives no support.  She is eventually evicted, and being no longer in the high needs group, ends up on the regular 8 year wait list for subsidized housing.

This scenario is unfortunately quite frequent, meaning that hoarding is a common cause of homelessness.  Currently in London there is a hoarding task force, but no integrated leadership that looks to housing support combined with mental health support combined with communication with the social assistance worker.

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