Human Rights Commission investigator describes ‘undisputed evidence’ of discrimination.

LEWISTON – A local man who claims he was evicted from his apartment for being on General Assistance has found a key supporter in his complaint.

An investigator for the Maine Human Rights Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that landlord Daniel Michaud discriminated against Kevin Hill of Lewiston.

Hill rented an apartment on Cottage Street from Michaud in October 2002. Hill says that he paid his rent without any problem until last December, when he lost his job and applied for welfare.

According to his complaint with the rights commission, Hill asked Michaud in January to sign paperwork that would allow Hill to use vouchers to pay his rent, but Michaud refused.

A month later, Hill says, he received an eviction notice from Michaud for failing to pay his rent. Shortly after, he filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Michaud denied Hill’s allegations.

The Lewiston landlord said that Hill never paid his rent on time and owes him about $1,400. In addition, Michaud said, Hill trashed the apartment and the hallway and was often the subject of complaints from other tenants in the building.

Michaud recalled Hill showing him paperwork from the city. But, he said, he didn’t sign it because he is nearly blind and he couldn’t see it.

“You think I’m going to deal with paperwork from the city for that guy?” Michaud said. “He has caused me so much trouble.”

Barbara Lelli, an investigator for the rights commission, saw the situation differently.

“In this case, Kevin Hill provided undisputed evidence that Daniel Michaud refused to accept General Assistance payments for rent and evicted him because he is a recipient of public assistance,” Lelli wrote in her report to the commission.

The case is scheduled to be presented to the commission on May 19. If the panel agrees with Lelli, Hill will have the option of suing Michaud with backing from the rights commission.

According to Lelli’s report, Michaud never responded to the commission when it notified him about Hill’s complaint. Michaud said he was too busy with the responsibilities of managing six apartment units to deal with it.

Hill could not be reached for comment.

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