President Barack Obama continued his “Better Bargain For America” media tour, stopping in Phoenix, Ariz. at the Desert Visa Senior High School Tuesday afternoon. After the crowd broke into an impromptu “Happy Birthday” song rendition, Obama drilled down and spoke to the serious challenges of housing in America and the nationwide mortgage meltdown caused by the recession.
Obama’s choice to open up this portion of his “grand bargain” initiative made perfect sense, considering the Southwest was one of the areas hardest hit by the mortgage crisis and housing market free fall. Taking certain care to mention Phoenix’s turnaround in that regard and the growth of jobs in nearby Chandler, the President stuck to a clean, plain-talking script on his plans to grow the middle-class in a successive fashion with jobs and housing as the cornerstones.
From the President’s speech:
Last Tuesday, I went to Tennessee to talk about that first cornerstone and lay out a grand bargain for middle-class jobs. And today, I’ve come to Phoenix to talk about that second, most-tangible cornerstone at the heart of middle-class life: the chance to own your own home.
Today, our housing market is healing. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in 7 years. Sales are up nearly 50 percent. Construction is up nearly 75 percent. New foreclosures are down by nearly two-thirds. Millions of families have been able to come up for air, because they’re no longer underwater on their mortgages. And even though we’re not where we were need to be yet, Phoenix has led one of the biggest comebacks in the country.
In a media call on Monday, White House official and Domestic Policy Council director Cecelia Munoz and FHA commissioner Caroline Galante talked about the Administration’s efforts to address the policy changes that will benefit prospective buyers within the African-American and Latino communities.
Both Ms. Munoz and Ms. Galante spoke to ensuring that formerly stringent programs that unfairly targeted home buyers of color have been overhauled.
On the call, NewsOne asked that while the Southwest’s resurgence is significant, would there be just as strong an emphasis on highlighting growing efforts in other parts of the country. Both Munoz and Galante said the President is taking a wide and thorough approach to making sure what happened in times past with predatory lending and the like would not plague Blacks and Latinos again.
President Obama didn’t directly address those communities in his speech, but did take an aggressive stance against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large mortgage finance companies that were taken over by the government five years ago. The President also laid out plans for easier refinancing for homeowners in bad loans and reimplementing simple programs like 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.
Learn more about President Obama’s plans for housing here.