- Recognize When You Need Help and that you do not have to do this on your own. This is a crucial first step.
- Make Your Needs a Priority. Set time for yourself every day to maintain healthy hygiene and obtain good nutrition. If you cannot access a toilet, shower or bathtub, move possessions to clear out space. Make any necessary repairs so that you have one set of operable facilities. Additionally, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining positive mental and physical health. If you cannot get into your kitchen, clear a path to the refrigerator and for space on your counter. Lastly, create space to sit and eat.
- Love Yourself. You are important and you matter. Focus on creating some space in area of your house that would make you the happiest to be functional again. Make this your sanctuary. Remind yourself that you deserve to live your best life!
- Make Small Obtainable Goals. Do not overwhelm yourself with the entire project. Focusing on smaller goals allows you to be successful and feel good about your accomplishments. Set reminders to accomplish your goal. Every step toward accomplishing these goals is a step toward reaching your dreams!
- Reach Out. You do not have to go through life by yourself- we are meant to be social creatures! Loneliness can cause you to hold onto material items as a replacement for companionship. So make those plans with family or friends or visit others. Plan a visit to a support group and become friends with other people with the same ideas and values. Support groups can also offer you resources and assistance when you need it most.
- Accept Help. There are often many ways to get help, such as professional organizers, friends, family, or other local organizations. Meet with them and discuss ways that they can help you. Strike a compromise and set some boundaries, so that you feel comfortable with their help. But then open yourself up to assistance.
- Get Professional Help. Have a treatment plan you are comfortable with. Remember, it is normal to have some setbacks. Making progress can help you improve your feelings of self-worth, motivation and overall outlook.
- Keep Pets in Moderation. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of animals in your care, remind yourself that there are animal lovers/rescue groups out there that can help. All animals deserve to be fed and given medical attention and you do not have to save them all by yourself.
The main mission for Fairfax County Government is to protect and enrich the quality of life for people and neighborhoods. This would include helping citizens obtain the necessary resources and assistance to keep them in their homes and stay there safely. However, at which time, a structure is found to be a danger to the occupants and/or the surrounding neighborhood, this structure could be placarded as unsafe or as unfit for human occupancy. Such conditions include being cited for a number of code violations, being severely damaged or dilapidated, containing compromised structural features or foundations, and/or lacking maintenance, proper sanitation, or other essential equipment.
Structures, which are found to be Unsafe or Unfit, will be posted with a placard on every exterior door. This placard will designate whether the occupants are allowed to enter for the purpose of making repairs or if their entry is prohibited due to the unsafe conditions of the home. The placard will be removed by code officials at which time the unsafe conditions have been removed or repaired.
Staff from the Children, Youth and Families Division of Family Services work with families and their children living in hoarding situations to assess safety and risk concerns. Depending on the level of concern found, staff partner with these families to minimize the risks, build on the family’s strengths, and address each family’s specific needs. Additionally, staff will work with each family individually to connect them to resources and services needed to rectify life safety issues or other living situation concerns. Ultimately, children do best when living with their families, and Fairfax County employees work hard to help families maximize their ability to protect and care for their own children in their own homes.
There are many factors to consider when potential animal hoarding cases are investigated. The ultimate goal for county employees is to leave healthy animals living in low-risk environments where they are happy and having their needs met. However, when this is not found to be the case, animals may be voluntarily surrendered, seized (often temporarily), or a combination of both, depending on the living conditions and health circumstances. This is because animal hoarding cases present severe medical and environmental risks from zoonoses, ammonia, and feces accumulation, both to humans and the animals alike. In severe animal hoarding cases, if there are at-risk animals (sick, injured, or dead animals present), usually all animals will initially be removed for a medical assessment. Healthy animals are often returned when the environmental conditions are corrected.
The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s (CSB) Merrifield Center offers 24/7 emergency mental health services, assessment/screening, outpatient services, psychiatric services, medication management and community based supports for individuals with a mental illness, substance abuse disorder and/or intellectual disability.
The Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU) is an emergency mental health program of the CSB that provides on-scene evaluation, treatment, and crisis intervention in the community. MCU specializes in providing these services to individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis and who need, but are unwilling or unable to seek, mental health treatment. In many of these situations, there is concern, because of a psychiatric condition, the person may be a danger to self or others or may not be caring for self. The goal of the MCU is to enlist the individual’s cooperation and develop the least restrictive treatment options, and the MCU can facilitate hospitalization and treatment when necessary. In cases of extreme hoarding if an individual has a mental illness and is unable or unwilling to accept treatment and may be a danger to self/others or unable to care for self, MCU is available to consult and if needed facilitate involuntary hospitalization/treatment. MCU works out of the 24-hr Merrifield Crisis Response Center (MCRC) at Merrifield 8 a.m. -12 midnight daily. MCRC telephone: 703-573-5679. MCU accepts referrals from families, individuals, public agencies, and private organizations.
The Community Response Team (CRT) is a joint case management and referral service born out of the Diversion First Initiative. The team consists of a CSB clinician, a Fire & Rescue Medic, a Peer support specialist and on a case-by-case basis Law Enforcement. The referrals originate from the 911 Dispatch Center, Law Enforcement or Fire and Rescue. The team reviews referrals and looks at the frequency of public safety calls, evaluates and starts working with these individuals to identify possible unmet needs. Such needs might include non-emergency medical, mental health, substance abuse, social, financial, or mobility related concerns. CRT conducts outreach to provide appropriate care and referral service to such persons with unmet needs. It often assists vulnerable populations unable to care for themselves or others; and, to assess an individual’s needs and connect those in need to appropriate medical, behavioral health, social or other resources. Its goal is to reduce dependence on public safety service calls while connecting those in need to appropriate resources.
Hoarding Disorder can present unique problems in tenant/landlord situations. The Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, Virginia Code § 55.1-1200 et. seq., establishes obligations on both tenant and landlord. § 55.1-1227 obligates the tenant to maintain the dwelling unit in a clean and safe manner and comply with all the building and housing codes.
Violation of these obligations can lead to eviction. However, the Virginia Fair Housing Law, Virginia Code § 36-96.1 et seq., prohibits housing providers from discriminating against certain classes of people, including people with disabilities. If a resident has or is perceived to have a disability, landlords may be required to make reasonable modifications or accommodations. Residents, who have hoarding disorder may have the right to request reasonable accommodations from the housing providers.
For example, landlords may be required to pause the eviction process to give the tenant time to bring the unit into compliance. Minimum health and safety standards must be met, even if the tenant requests or is offered a reasonable accommodation.
For more information, visit DPORs Virginia Fair Housing or the Fairfax County Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs websites.
For more information on what tenants and landlords need to know, visit Fairfax County Consumer Services Division.