Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau may experience some jealousy this week as he visits Washington and gets a look inside the White House. That would be an understandable reaction to the Pennsylvania Avenue mansion, since his official residence is in shambles.

After years of neglect, the 34-room riverfront mansion in Ottawa is in such disrepair that Trudeau and his family have to live elsewhere. NPR's Jackie Northam looks into why the residence has not been well maintained and found it's a question of politics.

In 2008, Canada's auditor general released a report saying decades of neglect had left just about everything in the residence in critical need of repairs: floors, ceilings, electrics, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, not to mention the asbestos that needs to be removed. The cost of those repairs was estimated at 10 million Canadian dollars or about $7.5 million, and those estimates will likely double at the very least.

Historian and author Charlotte Gray says the residence has had no major repairs in more than 50 years because prime ministers don't want to spend the political capital.

"It's always absolutely red meat for the opposition," she says. "This is the perfect opportunity to say your government is spending your dollars on luxury for their leader."

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