Hoarding Peer Support Group

Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) 

The Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) provides comprehensive services and increases the safety for those afflicted and impacted by hoarding.

It is estimated that one in 25 people in Greater Victoria is directly affected by hoarding, which is defined as the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.

The HEAT partnership includes the Victoria and Saanich Fire Departments, Island Health, SPCA, municipal services, concerned non-profit organizations, landlords, volunteers, and private de-cluttering services. Local fire departments are frequently the first point of contact for hoarding issues, but effective help can be hampered by the complexity of hoarding situations.

HEAT Hotline

Unfortunately, this program is currently at capacity at this moment and not accepting new intakes or referrals.  If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call the Vancouver Island Crisis line at 1.888.494.3888.  If you are seeking support for mental health or substance use concern other than hoarding or clutter behaviours, please call the CARES clinic at 250.519.3485 to speak with an intake clinician about appropriate supports available to you.  The peer zoom meetings are still operating at this time, please see below for details.

If you have a fire hazard related concern, please contact your local fire departments Fire Prevention Division.

Hoarding Peer Support Group Meetings

The Hoarding Education and Action Team (HEAT) offers a drop-in, peer-support group now twice a month to help people overcome clutter issues.

Learn more about this non-judgmental, supportive peer group, where members can share their struggles, strategies and victories with other community members. The group is facilitated by peers who share their tips and tools for dealing with the emotional and physical aspects of a cluttered home. Additional support from clinical staff of Island Health (HEAT members) is available when appropriate.

If you are struggling with clutter, and would like to see what this group can offer, please join us.

Peer Zoom Meetings to Commence April 7th 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are no longer meeting in the face-to-face format; however we are pleased to announce that we are moving forward wtih holding online meetings via Zoom starting April 7 2021 at 3 p.m.  These meetings are still free to attend, however you will be required to register by emailing msabell@victoria.ca.  Once you have completed your registration, a link to the meeting will be provided.  These meetings will continue to be held at 3 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Private Facebook Group

A private Facebook group has been created to support those who are impacted by clutter. Visit the Vancouver Island Hoarding and Clutter Support  group on Facebook and request to be a member.

The private group is a resource for persons struggling with clutter, their family members, friends, support workers, landlords, and anyone else who has an interest in learning more about the hoarding disorder, and how to work collaboratively to achieve happier and safer homes.

About Hoarding

Hoarding is an issue that people have become more aware of over the years. There are different reasons why and how individuals come to hoard or collect objects to the point that their living spaces are taken over by possessions. The Fire Department is often made aware of potential hoarding situations from landlords, friends, family, neighbours, or other agencies.  We are concerned with these cases due to the risk of fire and life safety to occupants, the potential for fire to expand beyond the property, and the potential risk to emergency personnel that may be required to respond there. 

Fires that occur in residences where there is an over accumulation of property are very difficult to put out. Not only does the over accumulation of occupants make it very difficult for the tenants escape due to blocked exit passages, but fires also grow much faster and the intensity is much higher than that of regular fires.

If you are concerned that a friend/ family member/ neighbour may be collecting too many possessions that are putting them at risk, you can contact the Fire Prevention Division and we will send an inspector to the property to perform an evaluation. Our main concern at this evaluation is to make sure that there are no immediate fire hazards. 

For example, we check to see there is a working smoke alarm, that there is adequate clearance to combustibles (no items stacked on stoves or heaters), we look for electrical hazards, and evaluate exit passageways. Once immediate concerns are addressed, and if the accumulation of property is found to be high, the inspector will then work with the individual and start a schedule for de-cluttering. Every case is different, and our inspectors may call on other resources to assist individuals in need if required.