The Department and the Census Bureau yesterday released data showing that new home construction in December rose 1.7 percent from November and 15.0 percent from December 2002.
For the entire 2003 calendar year, total housing starts were up 8.4 percent compared with 2002. Total building permits were also up in 2003, showing a 6.3 percent increase from 2002.
"Housing starts in December reached their highest level since February 1984, showing that housing continues to lead the way in our rebounding economy. The Bush Administration is committed to making sure this continued growth leads to increased opportunities for families to realize the dream of homeownership," said Acting Secretary Jackson.
In December, President Bush signed the American Dream Downpayment Act into law, providing downpayment and closing costs assistance to 40,000 low-income families a year.
That was followed this month by the announcement of the FHA Zero Down Payment Initiative which, with the support of Congress, could generate an additional 150,000 homebuyers in its first year.