Monday, April 16, 2012

Hoarding cases leave behind piles of sad stories

Barb Ickes

The elderly woman slept in her Chevy Blazer on the street in front of her house for three nights. A bright orange piece of paper that’s taped to the front door at 1004 24th Ave., Rock Island, explains why Lois Hudson has been banned from her own home: It is “unfit for human occupancy,” according to city code.
When a neighbor began to suspect the 83-year-old no longer was letting her two dogs outside to go to the bathroom, he turned her in.
“We knew she was a hoarder for three or four years,” said neighbor Dan Begyn. “Everybody up and down the block wanted to know why police didn’t do something earlier. They left it to us.”
But there was little police could do. Hoarding is not, in and of itself, against the law.
“Every community has people who have this problem,” said Tom Ayers, Rock Island’s chief building official. “It (hoarding) is in degrees. When we’re talking extreme cases, we see those a few times a year.”
Ayers is not permitted to disclose specific circumstances about the Hudson case because an administrative hearing is pending, but he said his staff frequently responds to hoarding complaints. In extreme cases, such as the one involving Hudson, his office gets a search warrant from a judge, condemns the home, and his workers try their best to find another place for the hoarder to live.
“I apologized to her for having to do this,” Begyn said of reporting his neighbor. “It’s very sad.”..."  More

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