Housing starts rose 0.8% in January from December to 1,012,000, 27.9% below January, 2007, the Commerce Department reported this morning (Feb. 20).

Single-family starts, however, fell 5.2% to 743,000 and were 33.8% below January a year ago.

Permits for housing units fell 3.0% from December to 1,048,000 in January, down 33.1% from the same month in 2007. Single-family permits fell 4.1% from December to 673,000, 40.3% below January 2007.

Completions were down 1.8% from December to 1,351,000 in January, a drop of 26.2% from January 2007. Single-family housing completions in January were at a rate of 1,010,000, 1.0% below December and 32.6% below the year-ago rate.