HUD Secretary Julián Castro speaking on the state of housing.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro speaking on the state of housing.

WASHINGTON – Federal Housing Administration mortgage rates will drop by the end of January in order to make home ownership more affordable, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said Tuesday.

Home ownership in the United States has declined since the housing market crash in 2007

Speaking of the importance of affordable home ownership at the National Press Club, Castro said the FHA will mortgages rates for those who already qualify by a half percent from 1.35 to 0.85 percent of the loan balance.

The National Association of Relators estimates that this reduction will help more than 2 million people who qualify for loans save approximately $900 annually.

Consumer Federation of America official Barry Zigas applauded the reduction.

“Today’s announced roll-back of insurance premiums to lower but still financially sound levels will be welcome news to hundreds of thousands of consumers for whom the price of responsible homeownership has been too high,” Said Zigas, who is director of housing for the consumer group.

HUD plans to make home ownership a reality for more potential homeowners by going to the root of the problem— affordability and accessibility to loans.

HUD is also working with FHA to expand access to credit for potential homeowners.

“Some used to say it was too easy to get a home loan, in 2015 it’s too hard,” said Castro, “we need to achieve a sensible and strong middle.”

“Homeownership is still a cornerstone of the American dream… bringing the cost down, hopefully it will lift folks up,” said Castro.

Castro also lightly touched on the agency’s urban development programs during his speech at the National Press Club.

HUD will be continuing current urban development programs in 2015 such as its Choice Neighborhood Initiative that funds and redevelops distressed public and assisted housing for families. It also will continue to push its Community Development Block Grant program, which provides grants and other resources to fund community needs and development.