Safe Homes Task Force

Safe Homes Task Force is comprised of several City departments and resource partners working collaboratively to make sure all homes throughout the City are safe and risk free for our residents. 

Safe Homes Task Force Members include Sterling Heights Police and Fire Departments, City Attorney, Water Billing, City Management, Building Department, Code Enforcement, Assessing, Community Development Block Grants, City Council, Ordinance Board of Appeals, Macomb County Health Department, Macomb County Animal Control, Community Mental Health, Area Agency on Aging 1-B, Statewide Intake.

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Hoarding: A Silent Danger

“Hoarding” is a common term which is used to describe extreme behavior in individuals that become obsessed with the collection of, or failure to discard, large numbers of objects or animals, even when their storage causes significant clutter and impairment to basic living activities such as moving around the house, cooking, cleaning or even sleeping.

While there is no current agreed upon definition of compulsive hoarding in accepted diagnostic criteria, experts often describe the following defining features:

  • The acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions (objects or animals) that appear to be useless or of limited value
  • Living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed
  • Significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding

Experts agree that while family intervention and treatment may help, there is no "cure" for compulsive hoarding, meaning there is no treatment that will make the problem go away completely and never come back at all. Therefore, intervention with hoarders must take place at several levels and there is a consistent reported amount of repetition and recidivism with hoarders. While studies have helped define the components of this problem, little is actually known about age and reasons for onset, family history, course of this disorder and insight into the problem.

Why Recognizing Signs of Hoarding is Important

Hoarding creates a number of health and safety hazards and conditions that can increase the risk of fire and block entry by public safety personnel. The accumulation of flammable materials, such as papers, clothing and cardboard, and rubbish, can pose a severe fire hazard. The amount of combustible materials creates an intensely hot, fast-spreading fire that is difficult to suppress. Escaping the home in a fire can be impossible due to blocked hallways, doorways and windows. 

In addition, public safety personnel’s access to the home can be hampered or blocked. Hoarding can also present significant health hazards and can cause disease or injury to the hoarder, family members and the community. Hoarding can be a potential indicator of mental health problems such as OCD and dementia. Finally, clean-up of hoarding homes can be extremely costly for landlords and local governments.