Modular homes under construction in San Jose covered in tarps to eliminate mold.
Modular housing under development on Branham Lane in San Jose is covered in tarps with mold remediation signage. Photo courtesy of Mauricio Velarde, South Bay Piping Industry.

A development site for homeless residents in South San Jose is blanketed in blue tarps to get rid of mold from months of neglect.

After San José Spotlight broke the story on Sunday about pre-built homes arriving unfinished and in poor condition, the site is peppered in mold remediation signs over tarped buildings and employees working in white jumpsuits. City officials said the mold problem is being addressed, and that the opening of the site is still months away.

“The emergency interim housing project being built at Branham and Monterey is an active construction site. No one is residing at the site,” city housing department spokesperson Jeff Scott told San José Spotlight.

Yet people were supposed to move in next month. Instead, issues at the project site have pushed that opening to summer. The issues stemmed from a subcontractor, Volumetric Building Companies, which was responsible for the factory assembly. Its CEO Vaughan Buckley chalked the delays up to redesigns. VBC was hired by Devcon Construction, Inc., the project’s general contractor.

The much-publicized modular housing project in South San Jose was called out by union leaders for it dangerous conditions. Photo by Brandon Pho.

“Devcon is working diligently on any and all issues that come up, including mold in some units as a result of the recent heavy rain. The mold has been remediated,” Smith told San José Spotlight.

Smith said the mold will no longer be a concern when the concrete is poured and exterior siding is installed.

“Before the units are approved for individuals to move in, a final inspection will occur to ensure the units meet all applicable building requirements,” Smith said.

The issues at the project were documented last month by labor leaders including Mauricio Velarde, director of compliance for the South Bay Piping Industry. Velarde met with Mayor Matt Mahan’s office on Feb. 29 about the problem. He questioned how the homes were inspected and why they were left unfinished on the project site and exposed to the rain.

Officials with the city and LifeMoves — the interim housing developer that hired Devcon — previously declined to say when the materials arrived at the Branham Lane site from VBC’s factory in Tracy. City spokesperson Demetria Machado later acknowledged the materials arrived in October.

NBC Bay Area followed up San José Spotlight’s reporting with a story on Monday. Devcon told the TV news station the mold was discovered in a laundry center, not a modular home.

Smith, the city spokesperson, did not respond when asked for more specifics about the extent of the mold issue. Velarde provided San José Spotlight with photos he took of the project site showing multiple buildings with tarps and mold remediation signage.

Velarde said the sight of workers wearing protective jumpsuits inside the buildings made him question why it’s taken weeks to address the problem.

“Why was it not addressed sooner? I don’t know,” Velarde told San José Spotlight. “I can tell you why they addressed it — because it was reported.”

Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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