3 arrested for allegedly stealing $8.5M Houston taxpayer money allocated to affordable housing

Pooja Lodhia Image
Saturday, June 22, 2024
Three arrested for allegedly stealing Houston taxpayer dollars allocated to affordable housing
Three people have been arrested for allegedly stealing and misusing Houston taxpayer dollars that were allocated to affordable housing in Third Ward.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Three people have been arrested, and accused of stealing and misusing taxpayer dollars that were supposed to go toward affordable housing.

The District Attorney describes an unconscionable scheme where the three allegedly pretended to improve Third Ward but pocketed millions of dollars instead.

The Midtown Redevelopment Authority purchased more than 300 vacant lots.

The plan was to clean them up and sell them to private developers who would then build affordable housing units.

But, in many cases, that hasn't happened.

"They've been magnets for crime, for squatting, for domestic and sexual violence, and for drug dealing," Ed Pettitt, the vice president of Greater Third Ward Super Neighborhood, explained.

Pettitt and other neighborhood leaders have watched the lots deteriorate for nearly a decade.

It didn't make sense, because your tax dollars purchased the lots.

The city's Midtown Redevelopment Authority was supposed to be working to turn these areas into affordable housing.

Now those whistleblowers say the overgrown, weedy lots are all starting to make sense.

"Unfortunately, our tax dollars, meant to improve the lives of Houstonians, were spent on flashy cars, nice houses, super living, trips, and pornography of all things," District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

The District Attorney announced today that more than $8.5 million of your money has been stolen or misused.

Todd Edwards, the redevelopment authority's estate asset manager, was allegedly working with landscape and demolition company owners in a scheme where they pretended to maintain and beautify properties.

All this, while property taxes in Third Ward continue to rise, and residents there say, more and more families are being pushed out.

"They have a leak on their bed and they can't afford, on their fixed income, to get a new roof, and there's no option to get on the waiting list for affordable housing because it hasn't been built," Pettit explained.

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