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Investigation raises concerns about mold, wage theft at San Jose $70 million homeless housing project

There are new concerns about the condition of a $70 million project for unhoused people in San Jose.

According to a labor union investigation, there is mold in the project and accusations of wage theft.

The three-story modular housing project on Branham Lane was supposed to open in April, but delays have pushed back the opening date to the summer.

Once completed, the housing project will have 204 rooms with private bathrooms and kitchens and will be the largest homeless temporary housing site in San Jose.

But, as first reported by San Jose Spotlight, a trade union investigator said he discovered mold in the modular buildings. He also claims the workers were not paid a prevailing wage.

“I followed up on my investigation and based on that I found there were various code issues and mold on the project the workers were cheated out of their fair wages, they were committing wage theft,” Mauricio Velarde said.

Devcon is the general contractor for the project. Company president Gary Filizetti flaty denied any wage theft, saying workers will be paid properly and Devcon is working to remove the mold.

Subcontractor VBC assembled the modular units at its factory in Tracy. In a statement, company CEO Vaughan Buckley said, “All workers onsite are being paid prevailing wage rates in accordance with the crafts they work.”

He also said all modules were delivered to the site free of water intrusion.

The company also said the mold was discovered in a laundry center, not a housing unit, and it has been removed.

The project was paid for largely by the state but includes $10 million in funding from San Jose.

In a statement, Mayor Matt Mahan said, “I expect our code enforcement department will ensure that all units in this new quick-build project are safe, clean and dignified.”

He also said the city structures development contracts on public projects to ensure workers are paid the appropriate wage for the tasks they do, so if workers are owed money, the dollars are there to make it right.

But Velarde still has concerns.

“They are bringing them in from the valley, paying them half the wages,” he said. “It’s unconscionable.”

Once the project is completed, it is expected to provide housing for 612 people.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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