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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 99-16
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeJanuary 20, 1999


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said the announcement today that housing starts in 1998 soared to their highest level in 11 years "is another powerful sign that our strong economy is directly and dramatically improving the lives of families across this nation."

"President Clinton’s successful economic policies are creating more jobs in the homebuilding industry, helping more businesses grow, and giving more families than ever the opportunity to transform homeownership from a distant dream into a sweet reality," Cuomo said.

"Low interest rates, low unemployment, economic prosperity and our homeownership initiatives are continuing to shatter one record after another in the housing industry," Cuomo said.

The Census Bureau reported today that in 1998 homebuilders started 1,615,600 housing units – up 9.6 percent from 1997 and the highest annual total since 1987.

The report also said that in December homebuilders started 1,720,000 housing units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, up 3 percent from November and the highest monthly rate total since March 1987.

In addition, the report said that in December builders took out permits for 1,723,000 units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, up 4 percent over November and the highest monthly total since January 1990. The high rate of new permits is an early indicator of a strong beginning for housing starts in 1999.

Another report issued by HUD and the Census Bureau earlier this month showed that in just the first 11 months of 1998, builders across the United States sold more new homes than in any full year in American history. Builders sold 823,000 new homes from January through the end of November in 1998 – breaking the previous record for a full year of 819,000 new home sales that was set in 1977.

America’s homeownership rate is expected to reach its highest level in history in 1998 when full-year statistics are compiled at the end of this month, Cuomo said. The 1998 third-quarter homeownership rate was a record high 66.8 percent of all households. A total of 69.1 million American families owned their homes – more than at any time in American history, and 7.4 million more than when President Clinton took office in 1993.

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