Thanks to Imp for this story - this is a very unfortunate story.
It is however not an uncommon situation though the amount of money may differ. You can ask many caregivers for variations of this story - I have heard of several people who claim to have lost what savings they had and who are struggling to make ends meet. This particular case may have first resulted from SARS (as the time line seems to coincide), and as a knee jerk reaction to the killing many people reacted in a panic to try and save as many cats as they could. The problem is that the costs associated with this many cats (or indeed any large number of cats) keeps mounting. The cats grow older and inevitably grow sick and need medical care. They also constantly need food obviously - not to mention that it is almost impossible to really spend individual time with any large number of cats.
The bottom line is that while we don't know the exact circumstances of this case (and again, I can see that during SARS, situations were't exactly 'normal' for anyone - I should know because we ended up with some SARS cats too), taking in and caring for any large number of cats is a lose-lose situation. It is simply impossible to keep forking out so much money for one thing. For another, the money could have been better spent on TNRM. It would have benefited more cats in the long run. It is a shame because clearly all the caregivers who take cats in do it out of the kindness of their heart - and they often find that they end up broke and unable to care for the animals.
Another caregiver I know used to work with a mini 'shelter'. She was told that the shelter had to close because they had run out of money and all the animals would have to be killed. She took in a large proportion of those animals - but is strongly against shelters to this day, saying that they do not work. She continues working, though she probably could have retired earlier if she did not have the animals, just to keep paying the bills for the animals she took in.