The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development releases a monthly scorecard that tracks the health of the housing market and the administration's foreclosure prevention efforts. The most recent release highlights many encouraging signs, including the millions of mortgage modification and assistance arrangements completed as a result of foreclosure mitigation programs put in place to help the housing recovery. But the report emphasizes the ongoing improvement in homeowners' equity in particular. Equity – which refers to the amount a property is worth minus the amount still owed on the mortgage – is typically gained through improvements a homeowner makes to the property or through home price increases. When equity is rising, homeowners benefit. According to the scorecard, homeowners' equity rose another 3 percent in the third quarter of 2015, reaching its highest level since the end of 2006. Over the past seven years, equity has risen 98.6 percent and, as a result, the number of underwater homeowners has continued to decline. In fact, the percentage of homeowners who owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth has fallen 66 percent just since the beginning of 2012.