WASHINGTON (Inman News Features) - New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the United States had 73 million homeowners at the end of 2001, the largest number ever recorded. The percentage of minority owners reached 49 percent, also a record.

"This Administration is poised to build upon this record year with a new focus on making it easier for Americans to have a stake in their communities and shape their neighborhoods through homeownership," said Mel Martinez, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"The President's down payment assistance initiative, increases in funding for housing counseling services and stronger partnerships with faith-based groups will pave the way for thousands more to achieve the dream of homeownership," Martinez said.