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Local News

Housing Authority of Joliet seeks solution on Water's Edge job controversy

Construction crews work on a two-story home Tuesday at the site of the Water's Edge development in Joliet.
Construction crews work on a two-story home Tuesday at the site of the Water's Edge development in Joliet.

JOLIET – Advertising for subcontractors will be increased in an attempt to attract more minority bidders to the Water’s Edge construction project.

Representatives from the Housing Authority of Joliet met with Carlson Construction last week to discuss ongoing complaints that not enough African-American contractors and workers were getting jobs at the site.

One solution is to create more awareness of jobs coming up for bid, said Glenda McCullum, an authority commissioner who was part of the committee that met with Carlson.

“We resolved that we would get some fliers out and advertise what will be coming up for bid,” McCullum said.

Signs also will be posted at the work site on Des Plaines Street, drawing attention to upcoming bids, she said.

More details of the discussion will be presented next week to the Joliet City Council, McCullum said.

Authority Chief Executive Officer Michael Simelton will speak on the Water’s Edge hiring controversy at the city council meeting next Tuesday.

Simelton would not answer questions Tuesday about the matter.

“We’re going to address it at the council meeting,” he said.

African-American workers and contractors have contended that they are not getting a fair share of work on the project.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk went to the last housing authority board meeting in January to insist that the board find a way to get more minority contracts and workers on the job. O’Dekirk said city officials have been getting complaints and have held several meetings with disgruntled contractors and workers.

Water’s Edge is a mixed-income development being built on the former site of Des Plaines Garden Homes, a housing authority apartment complex that was demolished in 2016.

Carlson Construction has said that it is following federal regulations requiring that authority residents and people in the surrounding community be sought for work on such housing projects.

McCullum said the housing authority committee discussed the Section 3 regulations with Carlson Construction in the meeting.

“From what we understand is that part of the complaints were not enough minorities are on the job,” McCullum said. “What we discussed is that there are minorities but not black minorities. There are Hispanic minorities on the site.”

Water’s Edge is being built in a primarily African-American community.

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