SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 23, 2014

Housing dispute over exception for dogs heads to court

SALEM — A months-long dispute between a tenant and the Salem Housing Authority has landed in federal court.

The issue: Jorge Maisonet, 39, wants to keep two dogs, Fuji the Shih Tzu and Candy the miniature fox terrier, in his apartment at the James A. Dalton Residence on Bridge Street.

But the housing authority allows elderly and disabled residents who live in their buildings just one small dog.

Maisonet is facing eviction over the issue at the end of the month .

When he moved into the building last summer, after three years on a waiting list, Maisonet brought both Fuji and Candy with him. Before that, he was homeless, according to his complaint.

Maisonet said in his complaint that he suffers from chronic depression and he needs both dogs for emotional support. He submitted a note from his social worker stating as much. Maisonet wants an exception made so he can keep two dogs.

But the housing authority said it needs more evidence that he requires two dogs, not just one, and asked him to fill out a “reasonable accommodation” request.

Maisonet has refused, saying that the form requests detailed information about his illness that he does not want to share with the agency.

Last week, after months of back and forth between the housing authority, its lawyer, and Maisonet’s attorney, Maisonet filed suit in U.S. District Court, seeking not only to stop the eviction but to collect monetary damages. The suit accuses the agency of violating federal and state housing laws and consumer protection laws and also contends that the eviction is in retaliation for his complaints.

Brad Singer, Maisonet’s attorney, did not return a call seeking comment Friday, but his case is detailed in both the lawsuit and in correspondence between the parties that was filed with the court.

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