Hoarding and its associated clutter can pose a tremendous health and safety risk to people who live in or visit hoarding environments. In some cases, it is also grounds for eviction. VHA’s Extreme Cleaning program helps people – many of whom suffer from mental health challenges – avoid impending eviction due to the unsanitary condition of their home. Since launching the program in Toronto in 2000, it has become a vital service to individuals at risk of eviction or institutionalization. In December, we began to offer extreme cleaning in London, Ontario as well.
“We’re very excited to expand the service to London,” says Cheryl Perera, VHA’s Director of New Ventures and Community Programs. “We consulted with several community agencies in the London area, including the municipal government, United Way, Canadian Mental Health Association, Fire Services, London’s Response to Hoarding Coalition and the South West CCAC, and found a serious need for this service in the city.”
Through this program, VHA staff conduct an assessment and do a thorough cleaning of the client’s home to ensure it meets public health standards. We also make referrals on behalf of the client for long-term support services as needed. Our staff members are sensitive to the needs of the person living with clutter. Addressing hoarding behaviour can be highly stressful to the client, so our staff work with and involve them throughout the cleaning and organization process.
“The most important thing is to help clients remain in their home. They do not want to go to a shelter environment or a long-term care facility,” says Perera. “But it’s also critical that clients are safe as they remain in their homes. Our follow-up support helps clients avoid relapse, learn the necessary life skills to avoid eviction, and connects them with other community support services they may need.”