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Hoarding is defined as the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. This can result in serious risks to the health and safety of those in the home.

Hoarding is increasingly recognized as a significant problem within the Island Health region:

  • It is estimated that 1 in 25 people have some level of hoarding behaviour.
  • We estimate that about 11,000 homes have a hoarding problem in the Greater Victoria area.
  • Communities across the Island Health region also experience hoarding and are working to address their associated risks.

If you are looking for help for hoarding, either for yourself or someone you care about, please call the Hoarding Education & Action Team (HEAT) at 250.361.0227. We can help.

Hoarding Education & Action Team (HEAT)

HEAT was founded in 2012 and uses a collaborative approach to help hoarders in Greater Victoria. We also refer people outside Greater Victoria to local resources.

HEAT includes:

  • fire departments
  • bylaw enforcement
  • Island Health services
  • SPCA
  • concerned non-profit groups
  • for-profit landlords
  • volunteers
  • de-cluttering services 

HEAT recognizes that hoarding exists in our communities and that it represents a significant health and safety risk for the hoarder, first responders and the community at large.

Our goals:

    1. Safety is the first priority
    2. Finding helpful resources for clients with a hoarding problem
    3. Maintaining ongoing support
    4. Keeping people in their homes
    5. To help you assess the problem and get assistance

Hoarding may require action

Hoarding can be a medical condition that requires mental health treatment as well as practical management strategies for de-cluttering, and maintaining a healthy home environment.

Sometimes, it can be challenging to know if the clutter you observe is really so concerning. To help you take a realistic look at clutter problems, please reference this  Clutter Image Rating Scale to help you take stock of the clutter problem you are concerned about.

If the clutter or hoarding you observe is rated at '4' or higher on the clutter scale, we would like to get involved right away to assess safety and see if we can assist in any way.

Call the HEAT dedicated phone line at 250.361.0227 to get things started, and one of our fire department safety officers will call you back.

HEAT Peer-Support Group 

We are a non-judgmental peer group, in a supportive environment, where we share struggles, strategies and victories with other community members. The group will be facilitated by peers with lived experience, who will share tips and tools for dealing with the emotional and physical aspects of a cluttered home.  The group will also receive additional support from clinical staff of Island Health (members of HEAT) when appropriate.

If you are affected by clutter, please come and attend this support group. We plan to meet the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Royal Jubilee Hospital (EMP) at 3:00 PM. 

Royal Jubilee Hospital
Eric Martin Pavilion,
2334 Trent Street, Room 609
Ask for room directions at reception on the sixth floor.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • January 10 and 24
  • February 14 and 28
  • March 14 and 28
  • April 11 and 25
  • May 9 and 23
  • June 13 and 27
  • July 11 and 25
  • Aug 8 (No Group Aug. 29)
  • September 12 and 26
  • October 10 and 24
  • November 14 and 28
  • December 12 (No Group Dec. 26)

For more information, call the HEAT line at 250.361.0227.

Education Opportunities

Hoarding Disorder (HD) Webinar

Presented by Dr. Eric Ochs of Island Health for Education and Training to the Residential Tenancy Branch of BC. This webinar is a clinically focussed introduction to the topic of HD, and how the Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT serves the Island Health region) responds to requests for service. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/WpeRl-C_ZXI 

Continuing Studies at UVIC

Course: Hoarding: Risk Assessment at the Door
Date: March 3, 2018
Time: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Description: During this 3-hour course, a panel of professionals will provide an in-depth look into the diagnosis, causes and different types of hoarding; how to detect fire and waste hazards and their implications; how to mitigate low or imminent risks; and community resources and support available for hoarding situations.