Feds under fire for moving evacuees to hotels: Spending $11 million a night

Chicago Tribune

October 14, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Trying to meet President Bush's mid-October deadline to clear out shelters, the federal government has moved hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees into hotel rooms at a cost of about $11 million a night, a strategy that local officials and some members of Congress criticize as incoherent and wasteful.

The number of people in hotels has grown by 60 percent in the last two weeks, nearing 600,000 Tuesday. Still, relief officials say they can't meet the deadline, with more than 22,000 people still in shelters in 14 states.

The reliance on hotels has been necessary, housing advocates say, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency has had problems installing mobile homes and trailers for evacuees, and has been slow to place victims in apartments.

Hotel costs are expected to grow to as much as $425 million by Oct. 24.

A FEMA spokeswoman said the federal government is moving as quickly as it can to find temporary housing.