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Red Cross admits to staying in high-priced Houston hotel

HOUSTON (KTRK) —

At least one city leader is questioning the Red Cross’s choice of hotels while coming to Houston to help with Harvey relief.

City Councilman Dave Martin dubbed the charity the “Red Loss.” He made the point last week at city hall, claiming he hadn’t seen the charity in his district.

Five days later, they still haven’t shown up in Kingwood, Martin claims.

Flood victims like Ronald Leggett, who live in Kingwood echo Martin’s complaints.

“I haven’t seen them,” Leggett said. “I’ve been here almost every day.”

But that’s not what really has Martin upset.

Some of the luckiest Red Cross volunteers are staying the night at the St. Regis Hotel, one of the city’s finest 5-star places to spend the night.

ABC13 Investigates found Red Cross vans parked outside the hotel along the street in an area marked for limousines over the weekend.

The Red Cross admits it had 20 volunteers staying there for days on end, due to “limited availability” they say, in the Houston area.

“I totally understand what the optics might look like on that, but it’s not something we do routinely,” Red Cross spokesman Charles Blake said. “It probably does send the wrong message. We got a very discounted rate at the St. Regis.”

The charity paid $179 a night and said it was doubling people up in each room. That’s not enough for Councilman Martin, who has six friends staying with him.

“I think they’re spending money the wrong way,” Martin said.

Leggett is staying with his mother-in-law.

“It doesn’t send the right impression — it doesn’t look right.”

Do you have a story tip, idea or question for Ted Oberg Investigates? Let us know, at abc13.com/tedstips

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