Fianna Fáil has described the Government’s announcement on tackling homelessness as ‘a panicked response to an escalating crisis in election week’.

The party’s Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen commented, “While I welcome any measures that will go some way to tackling the unprecedented housing crisis, this is a long overdue response that merely scratches the surface of what is needed.

“The Government promised a housing-led approach to tackling homelessness but instead what we are getting is a quango led approach.  It is a panicked response in election week by a Government that has ignored a crisis that’s been escalating out of control for months now.

“Establishing yet another quango is not the answer.  It’s an expensive and time-consuming process.  Instead of spending taxpayers’ money on setting up a new quango, the Government would be far better off channelling funding through local authorities to build the social housing units that are needed right now in every area of the country.

“The promise to provide 900 housing units each year for the next three years is certainly welcome, but it is far too slow a response for the estimated 2,663 people who are homeless and the nearly 100,000 people on social housing waiting lists.  The woefully slow pace of transferring vacant NAMA units to local authorities is further testament to the Government’s failure to prioritise the issue.

“A vicious combination of harsh social welfare cuts and escalating rents in Dublin has driven more and more people onto the streets and has forced families into totally unacceptable temporary accommodation.  It’s deeply disappointing that it has taken Friday’s local and European elections for the Government to wake up to what is happening.  What we need is realistic and long-term solutions, not election announcements aimed at salvaging votes for Fine Gael and Labour on Friday.”