carlimac

Here’s a tough one!!

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Today I had the head spinning, stomach turning, toe curling experience of helping clean out an inactive member’s home that hadn’t been cleaned for many many years. 

Wife couldnt come home from hospital after major surgery because house was too filthy.

 Pet feces 6” high in some places. 

Dust, cobwebs clinging to everything.

Mold all over the doors and many interior walls.

Dirty underwear mixed in with papers, cigarettes and food on the floor. It was horrendous. 

Wife has severe mental illness and hasn’t let husband in bedroom for 7 years. 

18 year old high school senior girl lives there, too. 

I got there on the second day of cleaning so apparently “the worst was behind us”. I could only get myself to stay for an hour before I just had to get out of there.

Problem is that our saintly RS President is trying to tackle this herself with volunteers from the ward. One person spent 3 hours washing the bathroom walls with bleach. Priesthood were hauling stuff out to a trailer to take to the dump. 

Bishop is out of town. They have sent him pictures so he can decide what to do First counselor in the bishopric helped yesterday but didn’t put a stop to it. RS president says there is no one else to do it. 

An experienced social worker in our ward went over there yesterday and said the house should be reported and condemned immediately. But the RS president feels so sorry for the guy and his wife who now has no small bowel and has to be tube fed till she dies. Doesn’t want them to be mad at the church for reporting them. 

What should be done?

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This in an extremely unhealthy environment.  No amount of cleaning can make it sanitary- the filth is literally growing inside the walls.  

Frankly, the best gesture of love is to have them reported and the place condemned.  There needs to be that abrupt change, moving out, and learning proper sanitation.   

Edited by Jane_Doe

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1 minute ago, Jane_Doe said:

This in an extremely unhealthy environment.  No amount of cleaning can make it sanitary- the filth is literally growing inside the walls.  

Frankly, the best gesture of love is to have them reported and the place condemned.  There needs to be that abrupt change, moving out, and learning proper sanitation.   

My thoughts completely. It's out of your hands and way above your pay grade @carlimac. @Jane_Doe is exactly right. 

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That was my thought, too. But my idea of compassion and the RS president’s are different. I don’t have her right to inspiration on this but my first thought was, this is dangerous for ward people to be exposed to.  Even wearing masks and gloves like we did.  The sister missionaries came to help and were fairly traumatized by it. 

She sees us reporting them  as turning our backs on them when they came to us for help. I’ve only been in the ward for 22 months and had never met them till today. She’s known them for a long time.

It will be interesting to see what the bishop decides. 

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8 minutes ago, carlimac said:

That was my thought, too. But my idea of compassion and the RS president’s are different. I don’t have her right to inspiration on this but my first thought was, this is dangerous for ward people to be exposed to.  Even wearing masks and gloves like we did.  The sister missionaries came to help and were fairly traumatized by it. 

She sees us reporting them  as turning our backs on them when they came to us for help. I’ve only been in the ward for 22 months and had never met them till today. She’s known them for a long time.

It will be interesting to see what the bishop decides. 

1) The filth is literally growing in the walls.  No amount of cleaning or bleach can sanitize the place.  It is literally impossible.

2) Yes, it is a major health risk for any ward members to be in there, unless you come with full haz-mat suits and training.

3) This place is disastrous for the residents health.  It would be turning your backs on them to have them stay living there (and again you can't fix it).  They need to move AND learn proper habits.  

4) Yes, you should voice your concerns to the RS and other ward leadership.  Good leaders listen.

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Who would you report this to?  Child and Family Services probably won’t do anything since the kid is over 18.  Would the county health board really get involved over a (hideously) messy house?

Other than that, though, I agree with @Jane_Doe and would (quietly) “nope” the heck out of that.  I feel bad for the RS President who can’t say “no”, and good for any ward members who want to help her— but I’m not going to risk my own health to satisfy the Ward Council’s irrational guilt over some third party’s self-inflicted wreck.  

If you want to help, give this poor teenager a stable place to crash while her parents (literally) get their crap together; and show her what a functional adult looks like.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 minute ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Who would you report this to?  

I'm no expert,  but code enforcement might help. Or at least they might be able to point you in the right direction. When a house is this bad, it is a public nuisance and things can probably be done. 

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Actually the dust on the walls was mostly gone today. I suppose a good paint job would help.  The black mold in the bathrooms and on the front door are a different story. And the walls chewed by the dog and the bird poop from the two cockatiels caked on the floor. ((shudder))

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This is what I would do... of course, this would be before I consult @Just_A_Guy for legalities.

1.)  Have Bishop fast offering funds pay for a weekly stay at a long-term hotel.

2.)  Torch the place and claim the insurance... okay okay, maybe we can't claim insurance.

3.)  Have the priesthood rebuild the house from the ground up - ask some Amish folks for help if necessary.

4.)  Assign double the ministering brothers and sisters to check up on them every week to slowly teach them proper hygiene and clean habits.

 

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6 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Who would you report this to?  Child and Family Services probably won’t do anything since the kid is over 18.  Would the county health board really get involved over a (hideously) messy house?

Other than that, though, I agree with @Jane_Doe and would (quietly) “nope” the heck out of that.  I feel bad for the RS President who can’t day “no”, and good on any ward members who want to help her— but I’m not going to risk my own health over her irrational guilt.  

Sadly she just turned 18 six months ago. They’ve obviously been living this way for years and years! Nobody knew. CPS would have been notified and that would have set things in motion had anyone known. Or maybe the RS President did know but didn’t know what to do. 

I really don’t know.

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6 minutes ago, carlimac said:

Sadly she just turned 18 six months ago. They’ve obviously been living this way for years and years! Nobody knew. CPS would have been notified and that would have set things in motion had anyone known. Or maybe the RS President did know but didn’t know what to do. 

I really don’t know.

One of the tragedies here is that the "hygiene" habits she's been taught are those responsible for this disaster.   She's got a tough life road ahead of her. 

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2 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

One of the tragedies here is that the "hygiene" habits she's been taught are those responsible for this disaster.   She's got a tough life road ahead of her. 

Maybe, maybe not.  Most family members of hoarders don't end up hoarding themselves.  She may have simply stayed to keep the situation stable.  Probably got a lot of flack if she attempted to clean up. Frankly I am surprised you aren't getting more pushback about throwing things out.

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If it gets cleaned, please post after pictures. My brain is now filthy and needs relief. 

The house will probably need professional mold remediation, possibly including removing the walls....they should probably treat it as though it were a disaster cleanup....because it is. I hope these people get help and get back on their feet.

On my mission to Texas I saw houses this bad. I remember one house being so filthy and having so many roaches that they were crawling up my legs. It was like I was on a hallucinogen, as the walls were moving (bugs crawling).

Edited by i'mnotspecial

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7 hours ago, bytebear said:

Maybe, maybe not.  Most family members of hoarders don't end up hoarding themselves.  She may have simply stayed to keep the situation stable.  Probably got a lot of flack if she attempted to clean up. Frankly I am surprised you aren't getting more pushback about throwing things out.

The woman isn’t there. She’s recovering from surgery at her mother’s house. I understand her husband would try to help her clean and she’d just get angry. I wonder how she’ll react when she sees it.

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7 hours ago, i'mnotspecial said:

If it gets cleaned, please post after pictures. My brain is now filthy and needs relief. 

The house will probably need professional mold remediation, possibly including removing the walls....they should probably treat it as though it were a disaster cleanup....because it is. I hope these people get help and get back on their feet.

On my mission to Texas I saw houses this bad. I remember one house being so filthy and having so many roaches that they were crawling up my legs. It was like I was on a hallucinogen, as the walls were moving (bugs crawling).

Well here’s one looking a little better.

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11 hours ago, carlimac said:

The black mold in the bathrooms and on the front door...

That, right there, is all the reason to get out and let professionals take over from there.  Even if the rest of the house were reasonably clean that alone would be reason enough to peace out.

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Sorry guys, but I have to say, this discussion is why I would be reluctant to allow church people to help me. I don't want to be the topic of a leadership counsel, and even more so, I would not want to be discussed on the Internet. 

I think that hoarders have serious psychological issues, and the people who live in this house need love and compassion not shaming and condemning. 

I think the Relief Society President has it right. Her attitude appears to be coming from a place of love.  Yes, maybe this house does need to be condemned, but the people who live there don't deserve to be condemned...or reported to some uncaring organization. 

That said, I agree that asking ward members to clean this...given that black mold can be dangerous...is asking too much. Perhaps the Bishop could use fast offering funds to pay professionals who have the proper tools to deal with this.  

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1 hour ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Sorry guys, but I have to say, this discussion is why I would be reluctant to allow church people to help me. I don't want to be the topic of a leadership counsel, and even more so, I would not want to be discussed on the Internet. 

I think that hoarders have serious psychological issues, and the people who live in this house need love and compassion not shaming and condemning. 

I think the Relief Society President has it right. Her attitude appears to be coming from a place of love.  Yes, maybe this house does need to be condemned, but the people who live there don't deserve to be condemned...or reported to some uncaring organization. 

That said, I agree that asking ward members to clean this...given that black mold can be dangerous...is asking too much. Perhaps the Bishop could use fast offering funds to pay professionals who have the proper tools to deal with this.  

I don't think anybody here is condemning the people.  Being critical perhaps, but I wouldn't say shaming.

In any case, reporting this is an act of compassion.. as well as protecting the membership.  I don't mean health-wise.  I mean legally.

Suppose the people who live in that house continue to deteriorate in health to the point where hospitalization occurs as a result.  Suppose now that it's only at this point that the local government gets involved.  Now imagine it comes to light that several members of a local church knew how serious the situation was and failed to report it...  
 

The church may well be legally liable here.  (Perhaps @Just_A_Guy can speak to this point.)  but consider also the media. 

"Mormon Church fails to report extreme health hazard - 3 hospitalized.  Do churches have the right to exclude the authorities?  Stay with us after the break to learn more!"  

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1 hour ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Sorry guys, but I have to say, this discussion is why I would be reluctant to allow church people to help me. I don't want to be the topic of a leadership counsel, and even more so, I would not want to be discussed on the Internet. 

I think that hoarders have serious psychological issues, and the people who live in this house need love and compassion not shaming and condemning. 

I think the Relief Society President has it right. Her attitude appears to be coming from a place of love.  Yes, maybe this house does need to be condemned, but the people who live there don't deserve to be condemned...or reported to some uncaring organization. 

That said, I agree that asking ward members to clean this...given that black mold can be dangerous...is asking too much. Perhaps the Bishop could use fast offering funds to pay professionals who have the proper tools to deal with this.  

I believe if we could see - that we would realize the leadership councils have meet since the beginning and that we all have been considered.  It is deeply embedded in the methods and character of G-d.  I am of the mind that to try to keep things secret is of greater harm to an individual than what it is they are doing.  Do not confuse this with someone else trying to point blame or tattle.  It is living a lifestyle fueled by shame and what others "might" think (or do) if they knew. (Jesus talked about this in John chapter 3 as why some love darkness and fear the light).

Decisions - especially in the church should not fall singly on the shoulders of the leaders or any individual.  There are things that everybody do not need to know but no one should ever attempt to fulfill any calling without the sustaining support of every member.

Sometimes I am inclined to believe that the greatest folly among the Saints of G-d is an effort to do too much all by yourself.  We are not one if we are the only one.  I honestly believe Satan is behind the effort of any individual to isolate themselves. 

 

The Traveler

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16 minutes ago, unixknight said:

I don't think anybody here is condemning the people.  Being critical perhaps, but I wouldn't say shaming.

In any case, reporting this is an act of compassion.. as well as protecting the membership.  I don't mean health-wise.  I mean legally.

Suppose the people who live in that house continue to deteriorate in health to the point where hospitalization occurs as a result.  Suppose now that it's only at this point that the local government gets involved.  Now imagine it comes to light that several members of a local church knew how serious the situation was and failed to report it...  
 

The church may well be legally liable here.  (Perhaps @Just_A_Guy can speak to this point.)  but consider also the media. 

"Mormon Church fails to report extreme health hazard - 3 hospitalized.  Do churches have the right to exclude the authorities?  Stay with us after the break to learn more!"  

This honestly isn’t my forte, legally speaking; but I am unconvinced the city/county has an interest in the cleaning habits of grown adults within the interior confines of their own house.  The adults have an interest.  The mortgage-holder might have an interest.  Otherwise, though, I just don’t see it.  Even if legally, there were some government agency with power to take my report and act on it—my libertarian sensibilities encourage me to keep the government out of it and let them be.

Now, if we have adults who just can’t care for themselves and we need to put them under guardianship—that, I can get behind.    But I need more evidence for that than just a filthy house; and in any event, I won’t accomplish anything by just condemning their house and telling them “get out, and good luck”.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Well the bishop decided to carry on and try to help them. He's seen the pictures. They say they've made it a matter of fervent prayer so who am I to judge. As I said, I don't have stewardship in this at all. I had no idea who this woman was. Still haven't met her.  I just showed up to help because the RS president is my friend. The husband seems relatively "normal" and wants to help his wife but he's been living in a different part of the house that doesn't look much better.  I feel they need some kind of help beyond what the church can give them. 

I think what's going to happen is that once they get this woman's bedroom in shape for her to return home, she'll need home health nurses to check up on her. Once they are involved, it will hopefully be out of the ward's hands if further referral to the health dept is needed. 

I admire the RS president's grit. I wouldn't have had the guts to step one foot in there that first day when the husband came to her for help. I hope she doesn't get sick from this!! She's mom to a huge brood of kids and grandkids.  

Edited by carlimac

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Personally I do not see this as a religious/church matter at all, but more of a family and community one. Why should the Bishop get the final say in whether or not the home is reported? His keys have nothing to do with something like this. The LDS culture places too many things on the shoulders of ecclesiastical leaders that they really have nothing to do with. This is a public health issue and the home should be reported ASAP. If individuals in the ward want to help, that's great, but it should ultimately fall on the homeowners and their family. No one should be living in those circumstances, and the fact that the home is in such disrepair shows that those individuals cannot take care of themselves. I would have called the police as soon as I saw what was inside.

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That's pretty horrific. Maybe see if your area has something like Adult Protective Services. You can report cases of self neglect.

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Who is better placed, and more likely, to help - the church, the government, or another non-government organisation? And what do the residents want? It seems to me that these are the most important questions that need to be answered in order to decide what should next be done.

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