Hoarding: Real-Life Story from NYC

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In its simplest form, hoarding is nothing more than the accumulation of necessities and items, which one needs or believes will become scarce in the near future. In recent years, however, it has been dubbed a mental illness, rather than a specific form of behaviour.

But who wouldn’t refer to it as a disorder, when you have a collection of junk and garbage for a home that spans three decades?

New York’s very own Kevin McCrary says he’s been a collector his whole life – ever since he was a child he would collect a variety of items, like stamps, coins and baseball cards. He’s studied filmmaking at the University of Denver and has worked as a photographer and as an investment banker in the 1980s.

Thirty years ago, he moved into his rent-controlled apartment ($500 a month, now $1,386) on East 65th Street on the Upper East Side, in one of New York’s priciest ZIP codes. His rent is paid via a family trust fund, managed by his older brother, John. During the 1990s, McCreary collected scrap metal and redeemed it for money, while simultaneously using his apartment for storage. His mild collecting habits turned to hoarding after the events of September 11th – he spent months salvaging artifacts and taking photographs at ground zero. After the death of both his parents in 2003, his hoarding became severe and impulsive and all forms of house cleaning went flying out the window.

In 2011, Kevin McCreary appeared on the TV show “Hoarders”, which managed to introduce people with this behaviour to the masses. The show also did miracles for Kevin’s local renown and since, he has been dubbed “one of New York’s most eccentric hoarders“. Recent reports by the NY Times revealed that Kevin’s parents are the famous Tex McCreary and Jink Falkenburg, who in their prime during the 1950s had their own popular radio show.

Now a man of 65 living with his 5 cats, McCreary has been actively dealing with his habits, in order to move on with his life. Though that’s easier said than done, when you literally live in your own and other people’s waste. Mister McCreary’s apartment has been filled with everything from old boardgames and books to computers, worn-out electrical appliances, stacked furniture and a collection of old TVs.

Over the years, many tenants have complained or left the building due to the state and mostly the odor of the apartment. McCreary has even been a victim of his own habits – he admits to a number of times he had to sleep on the street, because he couldn’t open the door to his apartment. All because of the items he “collects“. At times the only way he could gain access to his apartment was through the fire escape, though he’d usually hurt himself while crawling through the window and making way through all the stacked piles.

Last year, he accepted a buyout request of $20,000 from his landlord, Jeffrey Weber, who set a deadline until the end of October. However, McCreary didn’t manage to clear his apartment in this time, so his landlord kept extending the deadline and ultimately lowered the buyout price to $12,000. In the end, Kevin evicted the property, but there hasn’t been any word if the apartment is currently on the market and whether or not it’s being sold in its original or its hoarded state. Situations like this tend to have an abrupt and negative effect on the real estate market, and not only in New York, but in other large cities like Sydney, as the demand for properties is at an all time high.

Margaret Swanton

About Margaret Swanton

Meet Margaret Swanton. She is a freelance writer who likes to “tackle” the issues of home improvement and organizing. Margaret has 15 years of experience writing for various online magazines in Australia, and Fantastic Cleaners are proud to have her on their team of authors. The posts, presented by Ms Swanton are easy-to-read, interesting and, most importantly, helpful.
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