The Edina City Council declared a condo unit unfit and unsafe last week and gave the occupant 20 days to remedy her unit. The woman living in the unit exhibits signs of hoarding disorder, a mental illness.
The city determined that the amount of possessions in the unit was a fire hazard. Janet Yeats, co-founder of The Hoarding Project, says the case shows that hoarding crosses all socioeconomic lines.
"These people are not necessarily crazy or poor or living in ramshackle houses, they can be right next door ... they can be people you work with," Yeats told the Star Tribune. "There's a stereotype there, to think it can't happen in Edina or North Oaks. It does. It can happen anywhere."
Often, the hoarder is dealing with unresolved trauma from the death of a loved one, abandonment or a divorce, Yeats told MinnPost:
Individual therapy approaches can include grief work, cognitive behavioral therapy, or dialectical behavior therapy. But the hoarding behaviors are not likely to change, Yeats says, unless a collaborative approach is deployed, one that involves organizational experts, and the involvement of the greater community of housing inspectors, fire marshals, and environmental and public safety officials.
Most important, the recovery process must include family members, who too often get left out of the picture. It's not unusual for Yeats to hear from family members that they haven't been inside their loved one's house for 8, 15, 20 years, or spoken to the person in many years.
"The system of the family needs to be helped, not just this person," said Yeats.
Yeats joins The Daily Circuit along with Lee Shuer, director of Mutual Support Services.