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Waste of the Day: Portland Money Went to Roach-Infested Hotel

Portland, Maine spent $11 million in immigrant housing vouchers that went to a motel infested with cockroaches and rodents.

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Topline: The single largest recipient of city money in Portland, Maine last year was a motel recently shut down by a cockroach infestation, according to a review of spending records by OpenTheBooks.

Why did Portland send money to a roach-infested motel?

Key facts: Since 2019, Portland has been using a local Motel 6 to house homeless families and asylum seekers.

The motel had its lodging license revoked by the state’s department of health this March for several violations. The building was infested with rodents and insects, and there were only two microwaves available for 120 families.

One mother told Maine Public, “Every time I put [my baby daughter] in the crib, I found cockroaches there, and I was afraid that the cockroaches could crawl into her ears or her nose.”

Waste of the Day: Portland Money Went to Roach-Infested Hotel
Waste of the Day 7.8.24 by Open the Books

Portland, Maine’s largest city, spent just under $11 million at the motel in 2023. It’s 7% of the city’s $158 million checkbook obtained by OpenTheBooks through an open records request. No private company received more city business.

Portland’s parks and recreation department and library system received less funding than the Motel 6. Only five city departments had a higher budget.

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Taking advantage of government largesse

Background: City Manager Danielle West said the motel charges Portland $225 per night for each family, while other motels contracted by the city charge just $90, according to News Center Maine.

Portland’s options are limited, though. The housing is funded through the state’s General Assistance Voucher program, which reimburses cities for 70% of eligible expenses. Most motels don’t accept the vouchers.

Maine cities spent $43 million on the vouchers in 2023. That means up to 25% of all the voucher spending went to the cockroach-infested Motel 6, assuming Portland applied for reimbursement on the entire $11 million.

The state also has an Emergency Housing Relief Fund. So far, $35 million of the $55 million fund (65%) has gone toward 2,200 asylum seekers.

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Summary: If Portland is going to blow its checkbook on free housing, the city can at least find somewhere sanitary for families to stay.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com,

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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