'Hoarders' reality TV show films in city
“I'm going to wear this,” the woman said, clutching the garment.
“Mom, you don't wear yellow, it makes you look like you're in liver failure,” said the tall woman helping family members and workers from a trash disposal company move an assortment of household goods, clothing, personal articles and trash out of the home.
A compromise was reached on the yellow shirt. Attention turned to the next article in a mass of boxes, bags and piles of debris that had been culled from the home.
“I want to give it to the Salvation Army,” the woman said.
“The Salvation Army won't take it,” she was told.
A television videographer for the cable television reality program “Hoarders” recorded every word, even as crew members accused a reporter and photographer of violating the privacy of the family whose issues with hoarding will be presented as entertainment for a coast-to-coast cable television audience.
The scene was one of many being recorded at the 2,200-square-foot, five-room house in Manchester by crews working for Screaming Flea Productions, a Seattle outfit that produces the Hoarders program for the A&E Cable network.
Records maintained by the Hillsborough County Register of Deeds indicate the home being filmed has been owned since 1990 by a woman who said she was “very busy” and declined to speak with a reporter Friday afternoon.
Employees of the production company on the scene refused to talk about the production or even confirm the activity was part of the “Hoarders” program.
But municipal permits taken out to allow production trucks and rubbish vans to “encumber” the street were taken in the name of Screaming Flea Productions, which produces the show. Employees at the city Highway Department said they were told by the Screaming Flea employee who signed for the permits, Aimee Bezeria, that the company was producing an episode of “Hoarders” at the site.
In promotional materials, the A&E network touts the show as a “fascinating look into the world of extreme hoarding; a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to collect things.”
Alice Ikeda, a senior producer for Screaming Flea, said she could not speak specifically about the Manchester program.
Speaking of the program generally, Decateur said the program responds only to “a crisis that warrants a rapid de-cluttering.”
“Typically we assist in a big crisis-ridden situation, like a pending eviction” she said.
Six months of after-care, including a psychologist and cleaning experts, are provided.
Participants are not paid for participating, Ikeda said.
The condition of the home has drawn attention from the city Health Department in recent months. Aaron Krycki, a senior public health specialist for the city, said the department has had an open file on the property since the situation was called to its attention in April and referred to the Healthy Homes program.
“We try to work with the homeowner,” Krycki said. “We try to assist and link with other agencies, like social workers, family resources, professionals and clean-up professionals.”
The Healthy Homes program was fostered by the Centers for Disease Control and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Program guidelines call for the use of a “multi-disciplinary” approach to the problem, with a team that includes representatives of the judicial system, family members, social services workers and the local health department.
Krycki said the show's producers did not inform the Health Department that the television program was taking over for the multi-disciplinary effort to work through the homeowner's hoarding issue.
Some members of the clean-out crew wore face masks as they made repeated trips into and out of the house. Portions of the immense piles of debris pulled from the house were sorted in the front yard. Some of it was trash, some was “proposed trash.” There were bins for household items and bins for potential donations.
But much of what was removed from the house was carted off to the large trash trucks that stood ready to haul off decades worth of accumulated possessions that the woman couldn't bear to part with.
Soon, the trucks would roll away, the house would be cleaner, and A&E would get to air its latest hour of reality television.
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