Mobile Home Madness

Of all the extravagant wastes of our tax dollars in American history, few expenditures can compare to FEMA’s decision to buy mobile homes to house people temporarily displaced because of Katrina.

Even now, as the Katrina families in hotel rooms are starting to be told to find other places to live, there are nearly 11,000 mobile homes, worth roughly $400 million dollars, that were purchased by the government for Katrina victims and have NEVER EVEN BEEN USED:

“Ever since they arrived in Hope, we`ve been telling you about the thousands of FEMA trailers sitting empty. Now, there`s concern all of them, totalling about $400 million, may be tossed in the trash.

The mobile homes have been sitting empty for nearly 6 months now. “Since they were not properly stored,” Homeland Security inspector General Richard Skinner told a Senate Panel. “The homes are sinking in the mud and their frames are bending from sitting on trailers with no support.”

The soil under the mobile homes is so soft, that every time it rains, the mobile homes sink. Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross says FEMA is taking extreme measures to fix the problem. “If you can believe this they are delivering something like 44,000 jacks by that cow pasture near the airport to jack up each corner of all 10,777 manufactured homes.”

Why weren’t people ever put in these homes? Better question: why were expensive mobile homes bought to serve as temporary housing in the first place?

Moreover, why don’t they just go ahead and resell the mobile homes now instead of buying jacks? After all, it has been almost 6 months since the hurricane hit and quite frankly, the government has gone above and beyond the call of duty by paying people’s rents for this long on the taxpayer’s dime.

This is a ridiculous situation that reflects particularly badly on the Bush administration, especially since so many people have been pointing out how foolish it was to buy mobile homes all along (See RWN posts on this topic from Sept. 19 and Dec. 14 of last year).

While I defended how FEMA handled the immediate aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and placed the vast majority of the blame for the problems there squarely on the shoulders of the locals, the way that the Bush administration, FEMA, and Congress have thrown our money away during the rebuilding process, primarily because they think spending more money helps them politically, has been irresponsible, embarrassing, and shameful.

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