Throughout the month of June, USDA will celebrate National Homeownership Month with a renewed commitment to providing safe, affordable housing in our small towns and rural communities.

Our theme for this year’s Homeownership Month is “Bringing Rural America Home”.  When families can find a good place to live in rural America, they’ll stay there. They’ll invest in their community and help create new economic growth.

Ultimately, this strengthens rural communities and small towns, helping to boost population and create new opportunity. By providing access to affordable, safe housing, we don’t just help American families – we help make rural communities a great place to call home.

These efforts also create good jobs in the short term and boost the economy. Industry estimates show that the construction of a new home creates economic benefits that support up to three new jobs. The sale of an existing home creates economic benefits as well – contributing nearly $60,000 to the U.S. economy.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has helped more than 650,000 American families achieve the dream of homeownership.  We have also taken new steps to help families hit especially hard during the recession.  USDA created a new initiative – the Rural Refinance Pilot Program – that has helped more than 5,500 homeowners refinance their mortgage at lower rates. Earlier this year, USDA expanded this initiative from 19 to 34 states in an effort to provide assistance for more families.

USDA’s record work to provide rural housing assistance is just one part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive plan to revitalize the rural economy.  This month, we will also keep doing all we can to help Congress get a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done to support our efforts.  This is important because a wide range of 2008 Farm Bill programs that provide assistance to rural America will expire this September. A long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is critical for USDA’s efforts to create new opportunity in rural areas.

During National Homeownership Month, we’ll take steps to highlight USDA programs that help rural families get a good place to live. And in the long term, we’ll continue our focus on strengthening and revitalizing the rural economy for generations to come.