Volunteers give hope to mom and son trapped in hoarder home
Published Sunday, March 15, 2015 5:15PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:26PM PDT
A Chiliwack mother and son are getting a helping hand digging themselves out from massive amounts of junk accumulated over decades of hoarding.
CTV News first spoke with Pauline Jollymour, 92, and her son Gary, 58, in August 2013.
Chilliwack city council had voted to forcibly clean up the residence, called one of the worst cases of hoarding the city has ever seen. To this day, the home remains jam-packed with six-foot-high towers of tissue boxes, stacks of paper and bags of garbage.
“I’ve got to hang on to things because I lose my balance, I’ve fallen down four times,” Pauline said Sunday.
As the problem got worse, soon mother and son became dwarfed by the towering piles of junk throughout the home.
It has become so bad that Pauline can only sit down on one chair in the entire house, since every other surface is completely covered.
Only one element on the stove can be accessed, and the bathtub is filled with old cans, bottles and discarded tissue papers.
The garbage has attracted a number of rats, and a burst hot water tank has led to a massive mold problem.
“If I don’t move, I’ll be dead here, because this is a poison spot,” she said. “When my hot water tank broke, instead of borrowing money and getting it fixed, I didn’t do it, and that’s where I made a big big mistake.”
But now Pauline and Gary, who has obsessive compulsive disorder, are accepting help from local contractors in the form of a new home – and a major cleanup at the old one.
Local brothers step up
It’s thanks to the Gore Brothers, local home builders who have some experience with cleaning up hoarder houses on the TV show “Hoarders: Buried Alive.”
The brothers were alerted to the house by a local volunteer. As it turned out, they grew up right down the street from the Jollymour’s home and wanted to help.
“This is a fire hazard. There’s mold, there’s rats. This is totally, one-hundred per cent unhealthy,” said Tony Gore. “I’m worried Pauline might get buried one day too.”
“We first started trying to go and help them and clean up their house, but that was a little difficult,” said Mark Gore. Because there was nowhere for the mother and son to go, and cleaning would stir up potentially toxic contaminants, the brothers instead decided that the Jollymours needed a new home – so they bought them a townhouse.
Mark said the brothers are now listing the hoarder house on the market and have absorbed the cost of the new home until the old one sells.
The Jollymours will get a guaranteed price for the home plus whatever extra money the sale generates.
But first it’ll need to be cleaned up – a task the Gores are undertaking for free.
“We’re hoping to do it fairly quickly, maybe two weeks to a month,” he said. “By doing the move, they have a fresh start and their mortgage is obviously reduced.”
Moving on ‘very frightening’
Gary said he’s already been living in the new home for several week and is mentally preparing to leave the mess behind.
“It’s very hard, very frightening for me right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of things attached, a lot of feelings right now that make me ill at times because of the attachments.”
But so far, his mother and the Gore brothers say Gary has kept the new home neat and clean while he continues to seek help for his obsessive compulsive disorder.
He says it’s been nice to have hot water, a washer and dryer and dishwasher – in stark contrast to the hoarder house.
“With a little bit of encouragement and maybe somebody keeping an eye on things I think Gary won’t have a problem,” said Tony.
Pauline, who plans to move into the new home in two weeks, said she’s looking forward to the fresh start – and is grateful to the brothers for stepping in.
“They’ve done a lot for me and I appreciate it, so I mean, to me it’s very helpful and very kind, and I like kind people,” she said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro.