New home sales drop 16.9 percent

The latest numbers place new home sales 28 percent below rates seen one year ago.

In the wake of the housing boom and bust, the large number of foreclosed homes that still are available have continued to drag on the housing market. Home prices continue to fall nearly everywhere nationwide, and Federal Reserve officials have repeatedly identified the housing sector as particularly weak.

The bad housing news also comes as Congress and the administration try to figure out how to remake the nation's housing market. House Republicans are gearing up to introduce a number of bills that would alter the operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they work to reduce the government's role in the housing sector.

The White House agrees that Fannie and Freddie need to be wound down, but a debate remains over exactly what role the government should play, if any, in the nation's housing. Several Republicans have called for the private sector to completely take over housing, while Democrats air cautions about what that would mean for affordable housing.