Housing Authority Suspends Eviction Of Disabled NJ Vet

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBS 2) — A local housing authority is firing back at claims that it is “harassing a hero.”

The wife of a paralyzed veteran said an effort to evict them from their home is unfair, but housing officials say the wife is responsible for the trouble.

“Every day, it’s not an easy thing dealing with a paralyzed husband,” Page Vassallo told CBS 2 on Wednesday.

Vassallo is fighting eviction from a North Bergen building for seniors and the disabled. Her husband Sean, a Desert Storm veteran, was paralyzed and suffered brain trauma in a 2008 car accident.

The North Bergen Housing Authority said Vassallo is violating the lease by allowing Gary Danchise to spend the night frequently.

Vassallo said Danchise is a friend who helps care for her husband overnight.

“This person’s just here to help me,” she said. “They may stay a night or two if I’m having a hard night with my husband. I need the help.”

“There is much more to the situation than meets the eye,” Paul Swibinski, of the North Bergen Housing Authority, said.

Stung by criticism, the housing authority fired back Thursday, pointing out that Danchise has a criminal record. He served eight months in jail on a drug charge, and faced another drug charge two years ago.

“No, I’m not comfortable bringing a drug dealer in,” resident Grace Hensle said.

The authority also said residents have complained that Danchise seems to be living at the Vassallo’s home.

“Danchise visits the apartment and stays overnight frequently when Mr. Vassallo is in the hospital,” Swibinski said.

When asked about Danchise, Vassallo said she has known him for a long time, but was unaware of his criminal record. She didn’t have much to say Thursday as she left her home to visit her husband at a Bronx Veterans Affairs facility.

Mario Blanch is the Vassallo’s attorney.

“They’ve taken a paralyzed veteran, they’ve demonized his caretaker, they’ve demonized his wife,” Blanch said.

Blanch said the couple will fight to keep their heavily subsidized one-bedroom apartment.

For now, the North Bergen Housing Authority has decided to put the eviction proceedings on hold, pending further investigation – this time, also involving the North Bergen Police.

Page Vassallo said when he’s not in the hospital, her husband needs eight hours of care each day from a visiting Veterans Affairs nurse.

More from Tony Aiello
  • 01608

    He helps care for her husband overnight.

    He comes by frequently and stays the night when he’s in hospital.

  • Nola Saldana USN

    I challenge ANYONE to walk in this woman’s shoes! I am a disabled, Gulf war Veteran who works with disabled Veterans at a VA hospital. Ever hear of caretaker burnout???? This isia a 24/7 type of job and we should applaude this Veterans wife for sticking with him and fighting the good fight. I would like to shake her hand…

  • jennifer

    Why is she bringing a man to the house? Seems a little odd, especially him having a criminal record. Must be scary to the residents…

    • John

      Good for the Vasallos. Last I checked, this is a free country and if they choose to associate with someone willing to care for another human being (a concept Jennifer apparently cannot fathom) so be it. It is busy-body nanny-staters like Jennifer who are destroying this country and families in the process.

    • Rocky

      As a vet who requires 24hr care, I think it is non of your damn business. Should someone who has served their time, come to my house to help me, I would be thrilled. I currently pay over half of my compensation to caregivers. Having a criminal record does not disqualify someone from being a caregiver. You ask why she is bringing a man to the house, come over here and spend a day with me. All the heavy lifting and yes, you do have to clean “down there”! It is very hard to find someone willing to do the job, and you just “think” it is a little odd! I hope that if you ever become disabled, you don’t have people coming into your life and examining every little detail and providing their opinion about who can and can’t help you out. GET A LIFE!

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