Cohn: March 2016

Jeffrey Cohn, IICRC, RAI Presented on
“Hoarding Clean Up: Addressing 5 Major Issues When Helping Those With Hoarding Behaviors”

Jeffrey Cohn, IICRC, RAI

Jeffrey Cohn is 52 years of age and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Sociology. Jeffrey Cohn started SI Restoration in 1989, a cleanup company that services homes or businesses after floods or fire damage, mold and mildew problems, or crime scenes. But over the years his company saw a demand for cleanups related to persons who hoarded increase and from there he developed, with Josh Rafter, Address Our Mess, a company specializing in hoarding clean up or, as he prefers to call it, “creating safe and healthy home environments.” Mr. Cohn is certified to teach restoration processes in the state of Maryland and is IICRC certified in all aspects of restoration and home cleaning.

The Presentation:

Mr. Cohn previews the five areas that he will focus on before taking questions from the audience:

1) Major Issue 1: Using The Term “Hoarders”: I am a big proponent is changing the term from “Hoarders” to “those with hoarding behaviors”. It’s difficult to communicate with clients who have spent the last 20 years hiding from the world because they relate to themselves and the TV show version as “hoarders”. By communicating to them that they have an issue, but are not the issue, this helps both us and the client create a positive attitude toward the process.

2) Major Issue 2: “Junk Removal”: Another fear of those with hoarding behaviors, is the big truck with the words “Junk Removal”. I will discuss the fact that many of our clients have major anxiety and fears of their neighbors and friends knowing that they have an issue when the “Junk Truck “rolls to their house. The “Junk Truck” is like a loud speaker that our client believe says “hello world I am a hoarder”. The other issue is the “Junk Truck” says to the client, your “collected items” are junk and have no emotional value. Although I and my associates are not mental health professionals, we have learned that the “collected items” have deep emotional ties in most cases. The goal is to create a private and respectful way of assisting in the removal process and most important respect the client.

3) Major Issue 3: “First visit from the relatives”: Those with hoarding behaviors will tell you the ultimate fear is when they are forced to let in the relatives or case managers into the home. I will discuss ways to make the process easier and suggestions on how to communicate with those with hoarding behaviors the process of “clean up.”

4) Major Issue 4 : “Let’s just gut this place”: Relatives will tell us the first thing they want us to do is just throw everything away. I will discuss the professional mental health attitudes toward this thought process and ways of transforming the “collections issues/hoarding situation” into a safe and healthy environment.

5) Major Issue 5 : “How much does hoarding clean up cost?”: I will discuss the costs involved in creating a safe and healthy home environment (the better term for saying “hoarding clean up”). Costs can vary between items collected, sanitary conditions, and amount of collected items.

DVDs of this presentation are available for purchase by emailing All DVD titles from previous meetings are available on our website,