Hoarders present pile of problems for Minnesota cities

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Minnesota municipalities are digging into what seems to be a growing pile of cases involving hoarders, which present public health and safety risks, the Star Tribune reports.

Among them is Richfield, which just last week retooled city ordinances to define hoarding as it seeks to curb a growing number of cases, the newspaper reported. Richfield now has about a dozen hoarding cases a year that require the city to step in, the Star Tribune reports. Minneapolis has about 25 “real, real bad ones” every year; Bloomington had 30 last year, the newspaper reports.

Several high-profile cases of hoarding have put a spotlight on the issue, which can present tricky legal issues for cities.

A man in his 60s died in a July fire at a St. Paul house that investigators said was full ceiling-to-floor with personal belongings. A man in Linwood last year also died in a fire in a house packed with magazines and newspapers. The city of Minneapolis last year razed a duplex after officials were called because the place reeked of dead cats, animal feces and rotting garbage. More than 60 cats were found at a Duluth house last fall.

The Minnesota Hoarding Project is working with city officials to help tackle the problem and offering an educational-support group for family members of hoarders. One of the group's founders told the Star Tribune that there are no specific statistics on state cases of hoarding, but it seems like more cases are being reported.

It's been estimated that 3 to 6 million people in the U.S. suffer from a disorder that leads to hoarding. The disorder's higher profile has even given rise to a television show on A&E.

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