June is National Homeownership Month, and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture we've spent the past few weeks highlighting the role housing plays in our small towns and rural communities.
With 50 million Americans living in rural America, access to quality, safe housing is an important factor to a high quality of life -- and as homeownership in a community increases, there are also significant economic benefits.
By some estimates, the sale of an existing median-price home creates nearly $60,000 in economic activity; and that's not including the extra job-creating potential of a newly-built home.
We've taken time this month to visit with folks around the country about homeownership because we've got a lot to be proud of -- and we want everyone to know about the assistance USDA can provide for prospective homeowners.
This week, I had the chance to visit a family near Columbus, Ohio -- one of the hundreds of thousands of homeowners around the United States who had help from USDA to buy their home.
In fact, in the first three years of the Obama Administration, USDA helped more than 520,000 rural families in more than 21,000 rural communities around our nation to buy or refinance a home.
In addition, at USDA we're helping uphold the tradition of homeownership for those who are working hard, but who have seen their home values plummet because of wild risks taken by some in our financial system.
Right now, USDA is providing mortgage refinance options for homeowners in 19 states, to help them refinance their mortgage at today's historically low interest rates and give them a leg up in maintaining their investment.
Over the first few months of the program, we've helped more than 400 homeowners refinance under this program -- and we still have a long way to go in this two-year pilot project.
As the hard work of folks in rural areas drives the economy forward in rural America, President Obama and I know how important housing will continue to be and we're working hard to make sure the dream of homeownership is within reach for everyone.
As we near the end of National Homeownership Month, I want you to know that we will continue finding ways to help folks in rural America achieve the dream of homeownership.