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Gay Man May Live with Partner, Housing Authority Says

By Cindy Frazier
Special Correspondent

December 9 -- Buckling under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Housing Authority of Santa Monica has agreed to allow the longtime partner of a gay man to live with him in a subsidized apartment.

Housing officials had balked at permitting Gene Boccia, a disabled man who obtains Section 8 housing assistance, to share quarters with his partner of ten years, Brett Crowley.

As a result, the couple could not register as domestic partners in the state, which provides a range of legal protections for committed, unmarried couples who live together.

“I’m extremely relieved that my partner and I will no longer have to live apart,” said Boccia. “He’s my life support system, helping me with everything from doing the grocery shopping to taking me to the doctor. It’s a great comfort to know that from now on he’ll be by my side
around the clock.”

City Hall was closed Friday, so housing officials were not available for comment.

Boccia was disabled in a violent hate crime incident in 1974 in which he was shot in the face.

Crowley, a disabled veteran who relies on public assistance, had lived apart from Boccia for the past decade, fearful that Boccia could lose his Section 8 housing subsidy.

Recently, Boccia learned about an unmarried, heterosexual couple who was permitted to cohabitate in a Section 8 subsidized household and applied to the city’s housing authority to allow his partner to move in.

Housing officials insisted that Crowley prove he was not already living in the unit as an “unauthorized tenant” and demanded numerous pieces of evidence that the couple lived apart.

When housing officials still refused to grant the authorization despite evidence that the couple maintained separate residences, Boccia asked the ACLU to intervene.

An ACLU attorney submitted letters to the housing authority in October pointing out that both state and local law prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

On December 9, Boccia learned that his request to live with his life partner had been granted.

“We’re very pleased that the housing authority has decided to do right by this couple,” said Christine Sun, a staff attorney for the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the ACLU.

“Their story illustrates all too painfully what happens when the relationships of same-sex couples, especially those with limited incomes, aren’t respected.”

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