RIVERHEAD, N.Y., July 2 (UPI) -- Two people with mental disabilities who were married in New York finally have a place to live together after lawsuits and months of searching, family said.
Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels married in April after a three-year engagement. They met seven years ago and up until their nuptials had lived in separate rooms at Independent Group Home Living and MaryHaven Center of Hope on Long Island. Once married, the center, which is a non-profit that receives taxpayer subsidies to help with operating costs, denied the couple a place they could live together.
Their families sued saying the couple's civil rights had been violated because public money shouldn't be spent operating facilities that don't recognize basic rights for the disabled. While that was being litigated another facility, Riverhead East End Disabilities, which also cares for individuals with mental disabilities, came forward and offered Forziano and Samuels an apartment of their own, the Riverhead Patch said Tuesday.
Monday was the couple's first day in the new digs and Samuels said while pouring coffee for her guests she didn't want any help entertaining family and media there to greet them. "[It's] my house," she said.
A staff member at the facility is assigned to assist the newlyweds with their day-to-day tasks but the couple will live together like any other, family members said.
"It's a dream come true for them," said Forziano's mother, Roseann. "This is the life they want to have. They proactively sought it out."