A senior housing complex is threatening to evict a New Jersey woman, saying she broke her lease agreement by hanging three small American flags from her balcony.Dawn Paulus, 75, reportedly received notice that she had to have removed the flags, which are clipped to her balcony (shown at left), by early May or face eviction. A provision in her lease prohibits items from being affixed to balconies.
"I understand that's their rules, but I'm still sticking to my Constitutional rights," Dawn Paulus told NBC affiliate WSMV.
Paul Rummerfield, the housing authority executive director of the federally subsidized low-income housing complex in Phillipsburg, N.J., said that one reason the rule is in place is to keep visitors or residents from hanging weighted buckets on the flags, which could result in injury to passersby if the buckets drop.
"They say I should be shipped off to the Russian gulag, that I'm anti-American," Rummerfield told WSMV.
He cited another reason that the complex is cracking down on the flags and balcony violations in general: They could ruin the paint job. Last year, the complex underwent a $700,000 renovation, which included brand-new balconies and railings. The old ones were rickety and, in some cases, "held up by wires," Rummerfield said. After the installation, it was decided that the anti-hanging provisions (not just flags but anything attached to the railings) would be strictly enforced. When asked why three small flags posed a problem, Rummerfield explained that the architect was wary of clipping anything to the railings, as it might ruin the new paint job and cause other structural damage.
Rummerfield told AOL Real Estate that he has been in contact with Paulus and the housing board and that they are in the process of working out an "amicable solution." He said that he is confident that they can come to an agreement that lets Paulus hang her flags while not violating her lease.
There have been several recent instances of housing associations and residents scuffling over displays of American flags.
An Oregon veteran faced eviction for hanging an American flag outside his apartment over Memorial Day, and an Army veteran in Ohio fought his homeowners association for the right to fly an American flag outside of his house.
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