(CNSNews.com) - The housing market continues to lead the economic recovery, according to federal officials, who pointed to Census Bureau data released Wednesday that showed single-family housing starts rising 11.7 percent in August from a year ago.
"This administration is committed to making it easier for more Americans to realize the dream of homeownership," said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez. "The president's housing initiatives will pave the way for more Americans, particularly minorities, to achieve that dream."
HUD and many of its housing industry partners have recently stepped up efforts to get information to consumers about financial assistance, housing counseling and other means of becoming a new homeowner.
The Bush administration revealed several 2004 budget proposals earlier this year aimed at creating inexpensive housing, offsetting regulatory barriers and helping more low-income families become homeowners.
Such proposals include the "HOME Investment Partnerships Program," which the administration has targeted for a $113 million increase to increase the supply of affordable housing. An additional $200 million is earmarked in the budget for "The American Dream Down-payment Fund," to help low- to moderate-income families with the up-front money needed to buy their first homes.
HUD is also asking for another $10 million to go toward housing counseling to help many low-income families discover and maintain homes.
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