PONCE INLET, Fla. - A local housing authority is facing a discrimination charge against a 9/11 responder.
The Federal Housing and Urban Development Department says the Links South at Harbour Village condominiums in Ponce Inlet violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to grant a reasonable request to someone with a disability.
The man at the center of this is Charles Burge. The former New York Sanitation Department member helped with the clean-up of the debris at Ground Zero that took 400 days to complete.
"We started with manual brooms and shovels. Then, we brought in our heavy equipment and started to remove the debris," Burge said.
It’s an experience Burge says he carries with him every day. He recalls when family members of those who were lost started coming to Ground Zero.
"The wife, the spouse crying. Her parents crying. His parents crying. I mean, it took an emotional toll after so many days," Burge said.
Like many others who responded to the World Trade Centers, Burge contracted numerous health issues from inhaling the toxins from the dust and debris.
"Some of them cancerous. Some of them pre-cancerous. Digestive issues. Respiratory Issues. Psychological issues," Burge said.
To limit his exposer to allergens, Burge has done a number of precautionary things, including leaving his shoes outside his home at the Links South at Harbour Village condominiums.
The housing association was quick to point out its rule against leaving personal items outside the front door. Even after Burge supplied numerous doctor recommendations, notes and proof of his conditions, the HUD report says the housing association concluded that "the doctor’s letter does not connect the dots."
"In my mind, he had a very simple request. It was not complicated and most importantly, it would have cost his home owner's association nothing to grant that request," said Burge’s attorney, Elizabeth Devolder.
The federal government will now be taking over Burge’s case to make sure the situation is rectified and damages are paid.
We reached out to the condo complex and its lawyer for comment but have not heard back.