At its heart this Bill is about the State stepping up to provide affordable homes for purchase and rent using all means at its disposal to tackle the housing crisis.
The ongoing affordability crisis has reduced home ownership rates to historic lows. It has increased the age of the average first-time buyer by almost a decade to 35 years of age. Ireland has plummeted from a world leader to below the EU average rate of home ownership. For an entire generation, owning their own home is slipping through their fingers as they pay unprecedented levels of rent or as they live longer in their parents' homes. A generation is caught in an unaffordable rent trap. The recent Maynooth housing controversy has underlined the scale of that challenge.
The Affordable Housing Bill 2021 has four key elements. It will be the first local authority-led, direct build affordable homes on State lands in more than a decade and our first ever national cost rental scheme. It will also provide for an innovative shared equity scheme. It will expand Part V by designating units for first-time buyers. This element will be brought in on Committee Stage of the Bill in Dáil Éireann following the conclusion of further work I am doing with the Attorney General and with final Cabinet approval.
The roll-out of local authority-led, direct build affordable housing will be the central plank of the Government's affordable housing plan. Units will range from €160,000 to €310,000. I am working with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy McGrath, to reform the serviced sites fund to ensure it can effectively fund major delivery. The upcoming housing for all plan, which will be published this summer, will set out the ambitious range of targets throughout the State over the coming years.
I turn to Part V and first-time buyers. I intend to bring forward further changes to strengthen this Bill on Committee Stage. This will include expanding Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, and designating a range of units for first-time buyers. Work is under way right now with the Attorney General to bring these amendments forward to level the playing pitch further for first-time buyers, which is an absolute priority for me and for the Government.
We are in the middle of a national housing crisis and faced with such an emergency we need to use all the tools at our disposal to address this challenge across both the private and public sectors. We cannot tackle this crisis with one hand tied behind our back. I am committed to pragmatism over ideology and delivery over dogmatism to boost housing supply and open up real home ownership to a new generation. We need to stop letting one party's perfect be the enemy of everyone else's good when facing a crisis.
Silver bullet fantasies and hysteria politics do a generation locked in a rent trap a grave disservice. I am committed to using every weapon in our arsenal to fight the battle and turn the tide in our housing crisis. To refuse to use the private sector would, as I said earlier, be fighting this with one hand tied behind our back. Instead, we need to show energy, innovation, flexibility and commitment to get bricks and mortar into the ground with the State playing a central role and the biggest role that the State has played in generations. In this light the Bill is a major leap forward in our housing policy.
I look forward to our debate on the Bill's provisions. I will seek to respond to any specific questions and engage further with Senators on Committee Stage. I commend the Bill to the House. Go raibh míle maith agat.