U.S. Representative Mike Ross, D-Prescott, today called for congressional hearings into the Jan. 29, 2010, auction of the more than 15,000 manufactured homes and travel trailers stored in Hope, Ark. Ross asked the chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Infrastructure & Transportation Committee to hold hearings exploring why FEMA and the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that operates the auction, used the “one-buyer-takes-all” approach and why they did not suspend the auction for economic and safety concerns despite requests by the entire Arkansas congressional delegation.
The FEMA units have been stationed at the Hope Municipal Airport since they were first dispatched there following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. However, most of the units never made it to the Gulf Coast and have been stationed in Hope at taxpayers’ expense since that time. 15,013 units were sold on Jan. 29, 2010, through an online auction to one bidder for an average price of about 1,830 per unit.
Ross issued the following statement:
“I have called upon the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to hold hearings on the auction of the FEMA units stationed in Hope. I still believe that we would have generated more revenue for the government, which could have been used to pay down the debt, had FEMA and the GSA sold the units individually and given everyone who wanted a unit the opportunity to bid on one.
“Specifically, I have asked the committees to look into why GSA and FEMA made the decision to auction these units using a ‘one-buyer-takes-all’ approach when their past experiences demonstrated selling the units individually results in a greater return on investment. I have also asked the committee to explore why the auction was not immediately suspended upon request by the Arkansas congressional delegation until all of the safety and economic concerns had been addressed.
“If there ever was a perfect example of government incompetence and inefficiency, it is this FEMA trailer saga in Hope.