May 3 2009

Hoardhouse Published in the NY Daily News

In today’s New York Daily News, a Hoardhouse article appears on the cover of the Metro section! “Bronx-based service cleans out hoarders’ cluttered homes” tells the story on Don Tagatac’s Trauma Scene Cleaning Management Inc.

Here is the lede:

Catharine harvests rainwater for bathing and uses a litter box as her toilet. She has had no plumbing for seven years. The Georgetown University alumna sleeps on massive rubbish piles next to her 10 cats.

The story also appears on as “Declutterer Extraordinaire” in the Cleanup section.

Mar 23 2009


The new version of is now live.

Thanks for your support. Be sure to visit the blog for future coverage and news on this issue.

Please pass this link an message on to your friends, family, colleagues or anybody who might be interested in hoarding, cluttering, and NYC.

Thanks again,

Karn Dhingra, Jackie Kasuya & Ben Piven

Mar 13 2009

April Conference on Hoarding

Hoardhouse has been invited to participate in a forum on compulsive hoarding that will take place at 10 a.m. on April 21st at Hartley House, which is a settlement house in Hell’s Kitchen. It will be an excellent way to present our multimedia project to an audience comprised mostly of social workers who seek to learn more about the topic.

Patricia Petersen, a passionate social worker at Hartley House, is organizing the conference. At yesterday’s planning session for the forum, she summarized the gist of dealing with hoarder clients, “You don’t just go in and grab someone’s stuff and tell them to throw it away!”

Participants plan the April 21st hoarder conference at Hartley House.

Participants plan the April 21st conference at Hartley House.

Then, Bob Kalin (a community organizer at Housing Conservation Coordinators) talked about an elderly Polish woman who had stowed away $25,000 worth of crumpled $20 bills. That was just one of several hundred hoarding cases he has dealt with over the past 20 years. Next, Don Tagatac (whose Trauma Scene Cleaning Management Inc. has worked with several dozen hoarders) mentioned how his business seeks to protect support agencies against exposing their social workers to bedbugs and other hoarder scene problems. The conference’s panel discussion should be a great opportunity to share our final product with professionals who can make practical use of our material.

There are 10 days left until the project is complete, and our full package goes live. It will be interesting to see how enthusiastically the body of work is received by all types of stakeholders. We have tried throughout to cover the issues at hand in a balanced way. In covering four broad groups (hoarders, psychologists, clean-up specialists, and support professionals), we have sought to give each a sufficient platform to voice perspectives and concerns.

That being said, we would like our viewers to continue to give candid feedback about our work – in terms of both the form and the content. We are striving to create an easily navigable site with information organized efficiently. And we are still earnestly working to avoid any semblance of voyeurism.

Also at the meeting yesterday, Susan Siroto (program director at Search and Care, on the Upper East Side) talked about avoiding an Oprah-type spectacle. While the eminent talk show host’s unique brand of edutainment has noble aims, we certainly hope to be more informative and thorough in our reporting. Stay tuned!

Jan 29 2009

Hoardhouse on Aggregatr

The current layout on hoardhouse's aggregatr page.

The current layout on hoardhouse's Aggregatr page.

Using the web-based technology developed by a friend of the team, we are now presenting a sampling of news stories/videos about clutter & hoarding in a Drudge-esque format.

Click on the image above to visit our Aggregatr page.

Dec 17 2008

To-do Lists

Anna Leah, who moderates a decluttering support group in New York, said that there are three rules, which each of her members should adhere to: they cannot bring any hoarded items to the group session, they cannot visit any thrift shops, and they must throw away at least one thing each week. Since starting the group four years ago, Anna Leah said that her members rarely follow through on her rules. Just last week, at least two of the members, found themselves rifting through items at a flea market.

Anna Leah said that the support group is a great way to get hoarders to confront their problems. She believes professional organizers only provide a temporary fix because they’re not showing hoarders what they need to do to minimize their clutter.

During the session, one of the members discussed the connection between art and hoarding. As a collagist, he’ll hoard various items and feature them in his work. But he said that lately he hasn’t been able to finish any of his projects because he easily gets distracted.

Several of the group members admitted to suffering from the same problem. One of the members suggested that she found it effective to set due dates for herself, while another member suggested keeping an agenda: her agenda included a list of color-coordinated tasks organized by their level of importance.

Anna Leah emphasized how important it is for each of the members to keep a “to-do list,” because it’s easy for people who suffer from hoarding to become forgetful and it’s important for them to establishing a level of control.

Another member of the group expressed her difficulty in discarding old magazines. After asking the group whether she should tear out the pages that are most relevant to her, one of the members suggested that she discard all of the magazines because most articles can now be found online through the publication’s archive on their website.

Dec 15 2008

De-Clutter Support Group Meeting

Today I attended a de-clutter support group meeting for elderly people at Dorot, where I met Karen Fuller, Director of Health & Nutrition Services, Linda Libow, a social worker, and Susan Kranberg, a professional organizer. Fuller and Libow manage the program, and Kranberg conducts the monthly meeting. Fuller allowed me to sit on the meeting as an observer and announced to a group of 1o attendees that I was there working on a project on clutter and hoarding.

The meeting was the last one Kranberg held for the year, and she urged attendees to throw away or give hoarded items like clothing, shoes, and books to charities, friends, and family for 2009. Their assignment for the next meeting is to report what items they have gotten rid of for the new year.

Disposal of papers was a major issue for all of the attendees. It seemed like everybody had a problem with throwing away hoarded copies of the The New Yorker and The New York  Times. There were a few things that struck me after the meeting. Two men and an African-American woman were in attendance. From our research, OCD-related clutter and hoarding are problems mostly found among single or widowed Caucasian women. Karen told me that Dorot’s de-clutter support group meeting is one of the few in the city that men actually attend.  I was also amazed at how social and frank some of the attendees were with regards to their condition.

When I arrived, I initially expected that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak to anybody besides Karen, Linda, or Susan Kranberg. And they made it clear to me that they didn’t want me to try and speak to attendees because of possible liability issues and my lack of experience dealing with people who have an OCD-related clutter and hoarding problem.

But three ladies approached me after the meeting and talked to me about their issues with hoarding and clutter. One lady named Susan (not Kranberg) had some especially interesting things to say:

  • “Procrastination is a big problem for people with this problem.”
  • “I wish I could find a psychiatrist or psychologist who would not tell me to throw my things away. I want to find one who can tell me how to live with my things.”
  • “I have many books on hoarding but I don’t have time to read them because I’m retired. And I don’t want to get rid of them.”