CHATS helps York Region seniors deal with clutter, hoarding (program offered in partnership with VHA and York Support Services Network)


A sparkle lights up Lillian Fodor’s kind eyes and there’s a smile on the senior’s friendly face.

That wasn’t the case up until last week, the 67-year old said with a delightful hint of French accent, a holdover from her Belgian heritage.

Au contraire.

Her home of 10 years, a cozy, subsidized one-bedroom York Housing for Seniors apartment, was chock-a-block with possessions.

Our brutal winter felled Fodor with a string of flu infections, colds and coughs.

She was weakened and overwhelmed.

“It was getting to the point where I couldn’t keep up,” she said. “I didn’t have the energy. Stuff accumulated. It just backed up on me.

“I was really scared they’d throw me out.”

The retired former Bank of Nova Scotia data control clerk explained the self-imposed warehousing wasn’t a habit or a hazard.

“I made paths through the apartment,” she said with a self-effacing chuckle.

When the building superintendent visited to check on wiring, he saw the piles and stacks and simply looked his tenant in the eye.

The silence was deafening.

“I knew. There was a sense of shame. That’s when the ugly head of this mess reared its head.”

The superintendent assured Fodor help was available.

A York Housing staffer visited and contacted Community and Home Assistance to Seniors, best known as CHATS.

The call was timely.

CHATS had just launched a new tenancy risk reduction service to seniors program earlier this month.

The initiative provides support to low and moderate income York Region seniors at risk of losing their tenancy due to hoarding behaviour, cluttered living spaces, uncleanliness and unmaintained homes.

Program co-ordinator Alicia Maria Lue had a crew of three at Fodor’s apartment last week.

“When I was assured I wouldn’t be evicted and the CHATS people arrived, it was as if a 100-pound weight was taken off my shoulders,” Fodor said.

“They’re fabulous people. They saw my anxiety and made me feel comfortable.”

The crew consulted with Fodor on what goes and stays.

“They’re very organized,” she said. “They filled an entire garbage bin. I’m very pleased.

“They helped me when I couldn’t help myself.”

Offered in partnership with York Support Services Network and VHA Home HealthCare, the service is funded by York Region.

The goal is to support up to 40 clients.

CHATS provides extreme cleaning, minor repairs and clutter reduction to create safer living environments, advocacy regarding tenant/landlord issues and short-term therapeutic intervention with an occupational therapist.

Case management, with a specialized geriatric mental health case manager for mental health issues associated with any hoarding and longer term case management to ensure connectedness to community support, is also offered as required.

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