UBC Faculty Research and Publications

How Can Cities Tackle Hoarding? : Examining an Intervention Program Bringing Together Fire and Health Authorities in Vancouver Kysow, Kate; Bratiotis, Christiana; Lauster, Nathanael Thomas, 1972-; Woody, Sheila R.


Hoarded homes can pose a threat to public safety, with heightened risks of fire hazards, pest infestations and noxious odours in both the home and neighbouring dwellings. Communities across North America are responding to these public safety concerns through a harm reduction approach. This descriptive study explores the implementation and outcomes of the City of Vancouver's approach involving a partnership between fire prevention and public health. Data were collected from the team's 2016–2018 case tracking systems, consisting of health records and team intervention record, as well as notes taken from case briefing meetings. Study objectives included describing the intervention model, providing descriptive statistics on clients and their clutter volume, the interventions undertaken, and exploring predictors of clutter volume and case outcome through exploratory analyses. The sample included 82 cases involving severely hoarded conditions or more moderate hoarding conditions paired with additional client vulnerabilities (e.g. health conditions, frailty). Results from paired samples t-tests and regression analysis, suggest the Hoarding Action Response Team's (HART) model of a community-based intervention for hoarding was associated with clutter reduction and tenancy preservation. HART successfully maintained engagement with most clients, and most cases were closed within six home visits. Despite these successes, the team dealt with several barriers including client avoidance and limited resources. This paper provides guidance for communities who are working to develop a coordinated response to problems associated with hoarding and begins to establish expectations for what can be achieved through a community-based hoarding intervention model.

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