Saturday, January 9, 2010

When clutter turns to crisis

By Stephanie Schorow

Hoarders’ private problems can become a public nuisance, putting neighbors and firefighters at risk and dragging down property values. Now several Massachusetts cities and towns have decided it’s time to get involved.

No one walking by the neatly trimmed lawn of Shirley’s home west of Boston would see anything amiss. Inside, the small living room has enough space for her son and his friends to gather around the TV for a video game, although the room is lined with plastic tubs stuffed with old board games and toys. The kitchen is another matter; the table is piled high with papers -- newspapers, magazines, documents, letters -- which spill onto the floor. Shirley (who asked that her real name not be used) can’t throw paper away, or not without going through every sheet to ensure it’s not needed. She also has boxes of other belongings that she can’t quite get out the door. She can donate clothes that don’t fit her, but only if her husband helps her decide what to keep...." More & video