President Obama called on Congress in his weekly address to confirm his nominee for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to boost housing values across the country.
“We need to preserve access to safe and simple mortgages like the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage,” Obama said. “We need to keep laying down rules of the road that protect homeowners when they’re making the biggest purchase of their lives. And finally, Congress needs to confirm Mel Watt to be our nation’s top housing regulator, so that he can protect consumers and help responsible lenders provide credit.”
The comments were part of Obama’s ongoing effort to talk about his plans for boosting the U.S. economy while Congress is on its traditional August recess.
He called owning a home a “cornerstone” of being middle class in America.
“I’ve been laying out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America,” he said. “A good job, a good education, affordable healthcare when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you’re not rich, and the chance to own your own home.”
Even as he called for Congress to do more, Obama said the U.S. housing market was turning around.
“Over the past four years, we’ve worked to help millions of responsible homeowners get back on their feet,” Obama said. “And while we’re not where we need to be yet, our housing market is beginning to heal. Home prices and sales are rising. Construction is up. Foreclosures are down. Millions of families have come up for air because they’re no longer underwater on their mortgages.”
Obama said Congress could take action to continue the housing market’s progress.
“Congress should give every American the chance to refinance at today’s low rates,” he said. “We should help more qualified families get a mortgage and buy their first home. We should get construction workers back on the job rebuilding communities hit hardest by the crisis. And we should make sure that folks who don’t want to buy a home have decent, affordable places to rent.”
—This post was updated with new information at 9:00 a.m.