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The federal government typically spends up to $150,000 apiece — not counting utilities, maintenance or labor — on the trailers it leases to disaster victims, then auctions them at cut-rate prices after 18 months of use or the first sign of minor damage, the Associated Press has learned.

Officials have continued the practice even amid a temporary housing shortage in Texas, where almost 8,000 applicants are still awaiting federal support nearly four months after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Gulf Coast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) briefly halted trailer sales following Harvey but resumed them in November, online records show. Since then, at least 115 units manufactured this year have been sold for pennies on the dollar, and many of the online auctions have listed such things as dirty mattresses, missing furniture, pet odors or loose trim as the lone damage.

 “I don’t care what shape it’s in, it beats sleeping on a dirt floor,” said Christy Combs, who moved with her husband, four children and five dogs into a tent after their rented apartment in Aransas Pass, Texas, was left uninhabitable by floodwater.
 
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