March 16, 2005
STATEMENT FROM SECRETARY ALPHONSO JACKSON ON FEBRUARY HOUSING STARTS
The Census Bureau and HUD released data today showing that new home construction was up in February. Overall housing starts rose 0.5 percent from January and 15.8 percent compared to February 2004. This is the highest monthly rate since February 1984. Single-family starts were also up 0.3 percent from January to an annual rate of 1.775 million. This is a new monthly record.
"The growth reflected in today's numbers is another indicator that housing still leads the way as our economy continues to rebound. The Bush Administration is committed to building on these accomplishments so that people from every walk of life can have the opportunity to become homeowners," said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "The President's housing initiatives are paving the way for more Americans, particularly minorities, to achieve that dream."
Two years ago, President Bush challenged the nation to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the end of this decade. To date, there has been a net increase of 2.2 million minority homeowners, which represents 40 percent of the 5.5 million goal.
HUD's 2006 budget proposes a zero downpayment mortgage option in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that would allow first-time buyers with a strong credit record to finance 100 percent of their home purchase including closing costs. The Budget also proposes a program called Payment Incentives, which would allow borrowers with limited or weak credit histories to purchase homes by initially paying higher mortgage insurance premiums that would gradually be reduced after a period of timely payments. In 2006, these new mortgage programs will help more than 250,000 families to buy a home of their own.
To stimulate the production of affordable homes in distressed communities where such housing is scare, the Administration is again proposing a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost of new construction or rehabilitation. This tax credit targets low-income households earning less than 80 percent of an area's median income.
The 2006 Budget also provides $200 million to fully fund the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI). T his Initiative helps first-time homebuyers with the biggest obstacles to homeownership - the downpayment and closing costs. Since President Bush signed this initiative into law, ADDI has helped more than 3,500 families to purchase their first home. More than half of these new homeowners were minorities.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.