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RISMEDIA, June 5, 2007-U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson kicked off National Homeownership Month at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, yesterday. Secretary Jackson was the guest speaker at the Press Club’s Newsmaker Luncheon, discussing the importance of educating consumers about the home buying process, helping those who are in trouble, and how legislation to modernize HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) could provide a safe, fair and affordable alternative to exotic subprime mortgages.

“Throughout this month-long campaign we are taking our message of promoting and protecting homeownership to communities nationwide,” said Jackson. “All Americans should have the opportunity to achieve the dream of buying a home – and once they do, we want to ensure they stay in it. Educating families about the home buying process and helping those homeowners who may have hit a bump in the road is critical to ensuring a house remains both a home and a secure and stable investment.”

This year’s theme – “Promoting and Protecting Homeownership” – is designed to promote first-time home buying; to encourage both potential and current home buyers to learn about the responsibilities that come with homeownership; and to help consumers both read and understand the fine print of a mortgage. There are 2,300 HUD-approved housing counseling programs around the country that help potential and current homeowners learn about safe loans products available through the FHA’s mortgage insurance programs and other responsible lenders.

National Homeownership Month mobilizes HUD’s resources to educate Americans on ways to achieve the dream of homeownership. At homeownership fairs and other events planned throughout June, Jackson and other senior HUD officials will meet with prospective home buyers and provide them with information to determine if homeownership is right for them, or if they are already homeowners, ways to help them stay in their homes. They will also discuss the role homeownership plays in helping families build wealth and in strengthening their communities, as well as ways to prevent foreclosure by refinancing exotic subprime mortgages into safer products, such as those offered by the FHA, for those who are qualified.

HUD’s FHA has helped more than 34 million people become homeowners since its inception in 1934. HUD hopes to modernize the 73-year-old FHA through legislation that would make it more flexible by providing mortgage insurance to help underserved and minority home buyers avoid high-cost loans. The Department estimates that a flexible cash contribution for an FHA-backed loan, a risk-based insurance premium structure, and higher loan limits that better reflect housing costs would provide tens of thousands of eligible borrowers with a safe alternative to exotic subprime loans.

Too many families have been steered into accepting high-cost, high-risk loans. Teasers rates and balloon payments have confused many buyers, which is why the Bush Administration has increased the budget for counseling from $13 million to more than $41 million – a 200% increase – to help prepare families to buy their first home, avoid predatory lending practices, and assist current homeowners facing default. In the coming fiscal year, the President has requested another increase – to $50 million – for housing counseling grants.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-CALL-FHA.