The Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI) board of directors unanimously passed a policy on hoarding Thursday night.
The new policy gives GHI the power to take action on unsafe hoarding situations in cooperative homes.
The policy defines unsafe situations as restricted access to the units, fire hazards, biohazards, infrastructure problems or excessive pest problems.
Hoarding problems are classified into three classes - class one being the worst and three being a house with minor problems.
“We will see the problems before the city does,” said Tokey Boswell, board president. He added that the new policy allows GHI to take action — before the city notices the problem and padlocks the door of the offender's house.
Under the new policy, when a hoarding member comes to GHI's attention, GHI will notify the offending member of the problem and will contact the city's Code Enforcement division and Animal Control division, if appropriate. They will also contact any other necessary agencies, such as Child Protective Services.
Once a hoarder is identified, GHI will meet with offending member and the member must agree to a plan of action and incur all costs of the clean up. Hoarding members could be evicted and level one hoarders must seek alternative living arrangements, until the problem is fixed.
Some GHI members were outraged by the policy.
“There has to be a better, gentler way to do this. I know other people who are terrified,” said Caroline Nevins, a GHI resident.
“I’ve seen a lot of hoarding situations. I’m hoping this is not an excuse to throw people out for other reasons,” said Doug Love, another GHI resident.
Nevins asked Boswell what would happen if a member could not afford the costs or other living arrangements. “That is a problem,” Boswell responded.
“We don’t feel GHI is responsible for making sick people well,” Boswell said.
As situations arise, the motion the board passed directs staff to begin implementing the policy to guide their work in cases where extreme cluttering is found.