Sunday, July 17, 2011

Area task forces target dangerous hoarding

By: Leah Fabel

Tucked amid the tidy neighborhoods throughout the Washington area, homes of hoarders are hiding carpets soggy from the urine of dozens of animals. Hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- have boxes crawling with maggots and kitchens reeking of rotting food. Some have stacks of papers so high and pathways so narrow that firefighters barely stand a chance once a blaze starts.

"We'd typically call the Department of Social Services, but that's if the house isn't already burned down," said Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's County fire department.

Brady, like many area officials, has learned that hoarding is not general messiness, or the dozen extra boxes of knickknacks that some pack rats can't part with. It's an expensive and a dangerous problem that may worsen as the region's population ages.

Montgomery County spent more than $17,000 in October to house a family and clean their home after a neighbor's complaint about outside debris revealed severe hoarding..." More

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