Hoarding Issues and Solutions in Fairfax, VA

Report
Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Conference
May 20-24, 2012
Hoarding Issues and Solutions in Fairfax, VA
Programmatic Consolidation of Code Compliance,
Improve Performance, and Save Revenues
“Proudly Protecting & Serving our Community”
Code Enforcement and Code Compliance
processes and methods often vary
Between jurisdictions based on:
• Population size and density
• Agency composition
• Community trends and challenges
• Local codes and authorities
• Policies and priorities
“Proudly Protecting & Serving our Community”
Fairfax County, VA
Per 2010 Census
• Population- 1.1m
•
400 sq miles (99% is urban 1% Rural)
• 408,000 Housing Units
• Diverse Population
• Language other than English spoken at home- 35.9%
• Total Response: 91,000 of which 64,000 are EMS
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Hoarding, Overcrowding,
Property Maintenance, Health Hazards
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Fairfax County Hoarding
Task Force
• Established in 1998 due to…
•
Sentinel Events
•
Deaths of four homeless persons in an abandoned structure
•
Separate event involving a family of six in a colonial home
•
Complaints from Community Associations
•
Concerns raised by First Responders
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Fire and Rescue Department
Taking the Lead…
• Lead agency on hoarding matters
• Looked toward a multi-agency task force
• Bringing the collaborative agencies together
• Developing Cross Functional Teams
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Key Issues:
Understanding the Scope of the Hoarding problem
•
Understanding of the services and capabilities of other county agencies
•
Hoarding behavior patterns are a safety issue for the occupant and first responders
•
Comprehensive, multi-agency approach would best serve the owner/occupant
•
Significant staff resources and assets were required for even the smallest case
•
Enforcement, follow-up, remediation, and court action were time consuming and did
not always resolve the problem
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Goals
•
Define the extent of the problem
•
Identify the traits, indicators , and behavior of those involved
•
Understand the mental health complexities of hoarders
•
Ensure a multi-agency approach
•
Identify areas where resources might be more effectively and efficiently applied
•
Protect the lives and property of the owner/occupant while continuing health
and safety of the neighboring residents and first responders
•
Educate the public and first responders on appropriate action to take if
hoarding is suspected
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The Need for Change
• Until 2007 code authorities and enforcement efforts were
divided among multiple agencies leading to:
•
Ineffective communication
•
Segregated structure of code enforcement discouraged abilities to
respond with coordinated efforts
•
Lacking flexibility to deal with changing trends in compliance issues
•
Enforcement of existing codes were the responsibility of multiple
agencies
•
Demographics were changing creating life safety issues
•
Citizens were demanding action due to overcrowding in their
communitities.
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Collaborating Agencies
•
Department of Code Compliance
•
Fire and Rescue Department
•
Department of Family Services
•
Department of Health
•
Department of Housing and Community Development
•
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
•
Office of the Sheriff
•
Office of the County Attorney
•
Office of Public Affairs
•
Animal Services Division
•
Community Services Board, Office of Mental Health
•
Fairfax County Police Department
•
Board of Supervisors
“Proudly Protecting & Serving our Community”
Consolidation of Functions to Create a
Unified Department
• On July 1, 2010, a collaborative multi-functional
department, the Department of Code Compliance
(DCC) was initiated.
• Vision: To create an adaptable, accountable,
responsive multi-code enforcement organization
within a unified leadership/management structure
that responds effectively and efficiently toward
building and sustaining neighborhoods and
communities.
“Proudly Protecting & Serving our Community”
Cross-Training/Certification
• Enable staff to learn, become certified in, and have multiple
code skills in order to better support each other and serve
the community.
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Progress Following Consolidation
And Agency Creation
• Improvement in responsiveness to complaints
• Improvement in efficiency allowed:
•
Number of inspections increased by 50% to 14,500
•
Multi-code certifications better enabled investigators to identify and
resolve code violations in the field with fewer visits
•
Access to over 5,000 single family residents
•
Consolidation saved the County over 1 million dollars
•
Zero fire fatalities for the first time since records have been kept
“Proudly Protecting & Serving our Community”
Results?
• Streamlined and re-engineered investigative processes
•
Made changes to County Codes and enforcement procedures
• Creation of a robust training program for all staff resulting in a formal
program that offers 140 hours per year of relevant training
• Enhanced multi-agency collaboration
• Creation of a work culture that engages all staff and encourages selfdevelopment and contribution
• Creation of an enhanced classification/compensation system that
enables and encourages staff to grow and develop

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