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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 1, 2010

Hit A&E show searching for a few good pack rats in Isles

BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

"Hoarders" is about people living among unimaginable clutter because they can't bear to throw anything away.


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To be considered for the A&E TV show "Hoarders," go to www.aetv.com/hoarders. Click on the "Participate" link. Or call 206-767-1804.

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At first glance, the people profiled in A&E's popular series "Hoarders" come across as extreme examples of bad housekeeping. They live amid belongings so densely packed that their homes look as if someone carved a maze through a landfill.

But the frequently disturbing series sheds light on the serious problem of compulsive hoarding, a disorder that affects millions of Americans. Each one-hour episode follows a team of experts, from mental health counselors to cleaning crews, as it works to instill order in lives that are out of control.

Now, "Hoarders" wants to turn its cameras on your neighbors. The Seattle-based series, which has featured more than 40 hoarders nationwide since its debut last August, is coming to Hawai'i sometime in the next few months.

"We are looking for local families who are living in extremely hoarded living conditions who need our help," said Erin Ostrem, a producer for the show and a former Hawai'i TV news reporter.

The show, which is pre-paring for its third season, is one of the most popular on A&E. Last November, the first episode of its second season drew 3.2 million viewers.

"I think the reason the show is so popular is people can identify with what they see on the program," Ostrem said. "I like that I have the opportunity to help families who are living in a crisis situation."

Participants receive a two-day clean-up and advice from a professional organizer, along with mental health counseling that continues after filming is done.

"Hoarders" has sparked a growing awareness of the problem, Ostrem said. The show's producers field hundreds of requests every day from worried people who have discovered they are not alone.

"People are desperate to get on the show," she said. "People beg and are tearful: Please help our family."