Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler says he found out about allegations of unpaid wages at a local construction site through The Florida Independent.
“Other than reading your article, no one came to me on this issue. No one from the Housing Authority, nobody from the contractor, subcontractor, general contractor and no employee came, so I’ve seen your article and [am] trying to figure out what happened here,” Seiler says.
“This is not our project,” Seiler says. “We have an affordable housing authority which contracted with Carlisle [Development Group] on this project. We are not obligated on this contract for any of the construction; we are simply providing the affordable low-income housing after the project is complete.”
The Northwest Gardens project consists of 150 new townhomes and apartments designed for working families. Fort Lauderdale construction workers told the Independent this week that between 40 and 50 workers have not received their wages for anywhere from three weeks to two months, and are owed between $1,600 and $3,500.
“We are not involved in this dispute,” Seiler says, explaining that “the Housing Authority is an independent agency, operated under the city of Fort Lauderdale, but it’s an independent board appointed by me and their responsibility is to provide housing to people in need and housing alternatives, and so they do all different types of projects.”
He adds that he confirmed with the city attorney that Fort Lauderdale is not involved in this project.
Seiler says the Housing Authority “has been very successful for us.” “We’re pretty proud of what they’ve done with the affordable housing, low-income, step-up program,” he says. “It is something we want to continue. We need that Housing Authority, especially in a down economy.”
Tam English of the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale has not responded to calls from the Independent to discuss the unpaid wages at Northwest Gardens.
Seiler tells the Independent that “there may be federal dollars” in the Northwest project, adding, “I have to look at this project. I do not believe there are any taxpayer dollars from the city of Fort Lauderdale, but I think it has tax breaks.”