Houston redevelopment official ousted after overgrown lots lead Third Ward residents to take action
On November 6, 2023, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, tasked with acquiring lots to prevent gentrification in Houston's Third Ward, fired official Todd Edwards on May 31. Edwards was revealed to have paid his firm, P.O.W.E.R., LLC, $2.1 million for maintenance work on publicly-owned vacant lots from 2011 to 2020. Additionally, Cortez Landscaping, co-owned by Veronica Ugorji, who jointly formed a company with Edwards in 2017, received $6.2 million for lot maintenance from 2015 to 2021. Investigations found that Edwards was paying himself for maintenance work. Edwards' firing and subsequent investigations aim to determine the extent of potential misused public funds, emphasizing the agency's commitment to legal remedies. The scandal raises concerns about the misuse of funds earmarked for affordable housing in the Third Ward neighborhood.