Cleveland hoarding cases jeopardize neighborhood safety, tough to solve

Posted at 10:31 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 07:18:17-04

Cleveland city leaders report neighborhood hoarding cases are more prevalent than most residents realize and are a major safety concern.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ron O'Leary told News 5 hoarding presents a fire, health and safety issue.

O'Leary said the growing problem is not easy to solve, and takes major neighborhood and family involvement to finding a permanent solution.

Residents on East 76th Street in Cleveland reported a neighborhood home which they said has been surrounded by a wide variety of junk for the past 7 years.

Charles Williams lives in the home with his wife and young children.

The yard is filled with old toys, broken down lawn mowers, bicycle parts, old furniture and more.

Residents like George Edwards are concerned the home is real fire hazard.

"Being hoarders if a fire would break-out, it's going to bad for him as well as the neighborhood," said Edwards. "And I hope to God if a fire does break-out, he can get himself and the kids out of there."

News 5 spoke with Charles Williams about the mess and he admitted he needed to start cleaning up.

"Well, it might be too much," he said. "And if it is, then let's get ideas about how to tone it down, because maybe I might be a little extreme in my approach."

Judge O'Leary said hoarders could be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which carries a 6 month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

But O'Leary said the first line of contact in trying to get a hoarder to clean-up, should come from direct family members.

"Often times it's a mental health issue, and so approaching it the right way is critical to being able to get a long term resolution," said O'Leary.

"Family and friends that are aware of the issue, having them be the front line reaching out to the person."

O'Leary said his court will now start working on this case.

Meanwhile Edwards hopes Williams will clean-up, before it's too late.

"You have to do what's creditable for your children, and for an environment like that it's not good for the kids," said Edwards.