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

If you or someone you know is in need of support, please call the Hoarding Education and Action Team at 250.361.0227 or visit their website for more information.

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 (or a family member, friend or neighbour) are struggling with clutter, and would like to see what this group can offer, please join us.

All Clutter Peer Meeting Cancelled Until Further Notice

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be cancelling our meetings until further notice.  Please check this webpage or the Facebook group for updates about when meetings will be resumed.

NEW for 2020! The Hoarding Peer Support Group has Expanded.

There will now be two different locations and times for the peer group meetings.  The first offering is still at Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH), Eric Martin Pavilion, 2334 Trent Street, Room 601b on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Starting January 15, 2020 we are pleased to offer additional meetings on the first and third Wednesday of the month from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. at 1125 Pembroke Street in the RAS room.  Please view this map [PDF - 543 KB] for directions.   The 2020 Meeting Dates will be as follows:

  • January 8 and 22 - RJH (2334 Trent)
  • January 15 - RAS (1125 Pembroke) - cancelled due to weather conditions
  • February 5 and 19 - RAS (1125 Pembroke)
  • February 12 and 26 - RJH
  • March 4 and 18 - RAS -  All meetings currently cancelled
  • March 11 and 25 - RJH
  • April 1 and 15 - RAS
  • April 8 and 22 - RJH
  • May 6 and 20 - RAS
  • May 13 and 27 - RJH
  • June 3 and 17 - RAS
  • June 10 and 24 - RJH
  • July 14 - RAS (*No meeting July 1st)
  • July 8 and 22 - RJH
  • August 5 and 19 - RAS
  • August 12 and 26 - RJH
  • September 2 and 16 - RAS
  • September 9 and 23 - RJH
  • October 7 and 21 - RAS
  • October 14 and 28 - RJH
  • November 4 and 18 - RAS
  • November 25 - RJH (*No meeting November 11th)
  • December 2 and 16 - RAS
  • December 9 RJH (*No meeting December 23rd)

For more information, please contact Dr. Eric Ochs eric.ochs@viha.ca.

NEW! 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.