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Introducing the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force


Introducing the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force

Update, February 11, 2015: The Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force has launched a new website. Visit for information about hoarding and resources for people who hoard.

Community Legal Services (CLS), the Office of the Mayor, and other organizations are collaborating to address the issue of hoarding in Philadelphia.  Although the root causes of a hoarded home may differ, people who hoard belongings or animals often face severe personal and legal consequences, including shame, depression, social withdrawal, eviction, condemnation, forced cleanout, child protective services and even criminal charges for animal hoarding.

In 2013, CLS’ Pam Walz, Jennifer Schultz, and David Wengert organized a meeting of twelve organizations in Philadelphia to discuss starting a Hoarding Task Force to better coordinate services for people who hoard and improve outcomes.  Around the same time, Mayor Nutter convened a task force of city agencies to implement hoarding prevention strategies.  In January 2014, CLS and the Mayor’s Office combined the task forces to create the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force co-chaired by CLS paralegal David Wengert and Mayor’s Office Deputy Director of Policy Katie Martin.

CLS is excited by the prospect of collaborating, with the goal of providing more coordinated assistance for people who hoard.  CLS has a specific interest in improving legal outcomes for clients who present with hoarding issues.

Task Force members currently include Community Legal Services, the Mayor’s Office, Columbus Property Management, Animal Care and Control Team, National Association of Professional Organizers, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, the Center for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Jewish Children and Family Services, the Mental Health Association of Southeast Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia Office of Supportive Housing, the Pennsylvania SPCA, Visiting Nurse Association, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection, Pennrose, Philadelphia Fire Department, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.  Current affiliates to the task force include Tenant Union Representative Network, Councilwoman Maria Quinoes-Sanchez, Senior Law Center, Philadelphia Legal Assistance and Presbyterian Inspired Living.

The task force is currently working on creating a resource guide for hoarding services in Philadelphia, developing a training module to educate service providers, city agencies and community members about hoarding and creating a screening/assessment tool to help direct people who hoard to appropriate resources.  Long-term goals may include expanding the pool of therapists who can treat people who hoard, forming a case management program to provide ongoing support and creating a centralized intake for hoarding cases.