Council tenancies and hoarding behaviours: A study with a large social landlord in England

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Hoarding behaviours are highly stigmatised and often hidden. People with problematic hoarding behaviours have a higher rate of mental health and other healthcare and social services utilisation. Hoarding is a community health problem, one factor being housing insecurity. Hoarding behaviours represent significant burden to housing providers, impact the community and dealing with it involves multiple community agencies. This study with a city council in England with a large housing stock (over 14,000 properties) in summer 2021 sought to understand the nature, circumstances and extent that hoarding presents. We developed a reporting system and conducted 11 interviews with housing officers in which they described a case to explain their involvement. Our report details the nature of 38 people who hoard. 47% had a known disability or vulnerability, 34% presented a fire and environmental risk, 87% lived alone and 60% were resident in flats. Our qualitative themes are: Working with others, Balancing an enforcement approach, Feeling conflicted, Complex needs of people who hoard and Staff needs. The cases described by the housing officers are combined into six case studies and illustrate the complex, multi-agency circumstances around decision making and risk stratification. Our findings point to housing officers as frontline professionals dealing with a public health and social care issue which is often the manifestation of complex life histories and mental health conditions. We suggest a greater focus on risk stratification and a more holistic approach to hoarding cases to effectively deal with this most complex of community health and social care issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2292-2299
Number of pages8
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
Early online date20 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

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