Housing is the cornerstone of communities, of families, and of the economy. It is one of human kind's most basic needs.
We've all been watching the housing market over the past few years. It's beginning to turn around. Housing prices have stabilized and some home values are now increasing. And foreclosure filings have dropped. More homes are available for first-time buyers as mortgage interest rates have never been lower. But we still have challenges ahead.
Here in Dover at a conference on Housing, federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, talked the President's proposals to help responsible homeowners -- that includes a broad range of tools to give families access to low-cost refinancing while rebuilding home equity lost during the housing crisis.
Here in Delaware, we've put in place a number of policies and programs to help homebuyers. Like an Acquisition & Rehab program to fix up homes that need minor repairs; a New Construction Set-Aside to spur the home building and construction industries; our Loans for Heroes, to assist our brave men & women who have come from battle in purchasing homes; and the Home Again program, which offers competitive interest rates and down payment & closing cost assistance to repeat buyers.
Delaware enjoys the fourth highest rates of home ownership in the country -- about 74% compared to the national average of 66%. But home ownership not only needs to be affordable -- it needs to be sustainable. That's why a mediation program to help families keep their homes and the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program stand ready to help. Improving our quality of life and getting the most out of each tax dollar have been priorities for this administration.
Delaware continues to be at the forefront of innovative solutions. We're now launching DelawareHousingSearch.org to connect people looking for homes --to rent or buy -- with available housing stock. Just one more example of how government can work with private partners toward the common goal of ensuring families have a place in Delaware to call home .better enabling us to keep individuals, communities and our state moving forward.