For the past 10 years, across the London area, VHA Home HealthCare’s Extreme Cleaning and Hoarding Support programs have been changing the lives of individuals living in dangerously cluttered, unsanitary or squalid conditions. At risk of eviction, homelessness and fire, these services have offered a last chance and a fresh start for some of our most marginalized community members.
However, after recent funding changes—and unless other support can be found—these services will be lost by the end of March 2022. As the only free and immediate programs for residents in London, St. Thomas, Middlesex and Elgin County that address the health and safety risks of squalor and clutter, the implications of these cuts are devastating.
“This past year alone we’ve supported an elderly man living with piling garbage after multiple falls made him too fearful to take it outside, a severely disabled woman who was left alone and couldn’t access home care services due to a cockroach infestation, and a man who was unable to return home from the hospital when emergency services discovered the clutter that had been collecting for 16 years. These are just a few snapshots that show the vulnerability of these individuals who truly have no other options,” said Melissa Davis, Supervisor of Community Support Programs at VHA Home HealthCare in London.
The empathetic and skilled members of the Extreme Cleaning and Hoarding Support teams rapidly respond to eviction notices, warnings from property managers and referrals from emergency responders and social services agencies. They provide a range of services for clients with complex mental health issues or physical challenges that prevent them from having a safe living environment. This support may include a thorough cleaning to ensure the home meets public health standards, preparation for pest treatments, sensitive cleaning and decluttering for problematic hoarding and follow-up to help clients learn the necessary life skills to remain safe, housed and out of further poverty.
“Our services not only prevent eviction, homelessness and fire, but they also keep our clients out of the hospital, remove barriers and reunite isolated people,” said Melissa.
“Without a secure and stable source of funding, these vital services will end by April and we’ll be forced to abandon vulnerable community members,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking, especially when we know that the pandemic has already impacted this group disproportionately and people are calling on us like never before.”
VHA’s Extreme Cleaning and Hoarding Support programs require funding to continue to provide these much-needed services. If you can help, please contact Melissa Davis at (519) 645-2410 ext. 5010 or at email@example.com.