Reporting Hazel Sanchez
NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBS 2) — A paralyzed veteran who once fought for his country is now fighting to keep his home.
The North Bergen Housing Authority is trying to evict the former Marine because he’s getting help from a friend. His despondent wife told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez they’re harassing her hero.
Page Vassallo said she’s heartbroken that her husband, Sean, is not sleeping in his own bed.
The 41-year-old Desert Storm veteran is paralyzed, and is now hospitalized while the couple faces eviction from their apartment.
“I just want my husband home with me,” Page said.
Sean Vassallo suffered brain trauma and became paralyzed after a car accident in 2008. He lives with his wife of 10 years in a North Bergen Housing Authority building for the elderly and disabled.
“Every day it gets harder and harder,” Page said. “It’s not an easy thing dealing with a husband that’s paralyzed.”
When a home health aide is not available, a family friend helps Page Vassallo with lifting and bathing her husband several days a week.
“That person is just here to help me. They may stay a night or two if I’m having a hard time with my husband,” Page said. “I need the help. I have no family support.”
The Housing Authority sent the Vassallos multiple notices saying their friend’s frequent visits are a violation of their lease, so they must move.
“He can’t spend more than 14 nights here without violating the lease and being considered a permanent resident,” Housing Authority spokesperson Paul Swibinski said.
“This is a complete injustice,” said Mario Blanch, the Vassallo family attorney.
The Vassallos hired Blanch to fight to keep their home – and their help.
“He doesn’t intend to live here with Page and Sean,” Blanch said. “He’s here to help, and they’re trying to take away this individual’s support system.”
“He’ll never change,” Page added. “He’ll be like this for the rest of his life.”
Page Vassallo said she won’t bring her husband home until the eviction issue is cleared up. She’s hoping that happens on Feb. 22, when the couple is due in landlord-tenant court.
A Housing Authority spokesperson said the Vassallos would not be violating their lease if the friend didn’t stay overnight.
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