President Barack Obama spoke to hundreds of Northern Virginia residents Wednesday in Falls Church about his plan to revitalize the current housing market.
He said the housing crisis has been the biggest drag against getting the United States out of a recession. He said people were purchasing homes they could not afford and went into foreclosure while some homeowners went into debt refinancing their homes.
“We need to do everything we can to make responsible families whole again,” Obama said to the large group inside the James Lee Community Center. “The truth is it’s going to take longer for us to get out of this housing crisis and the government can’t do it alone.”
Obama rolled out a proposal to the Falls Church crowd that drew roaring applause. His proposal would allow homeowners to obtain privately held mortgages at record low rates. Obama said his proposal would allow families to save about $3,000 annually, which could go toward putting equity into a home or money in people’s pockets. He said he wants mortgage applications to be condensed to one page and wants to rid the applications of legal jargon some people may not understand in order to simplify the process. Obama also revealed that he has created a task force that will investigate the risks banks take on packaging mortgages for potential homeowners.
With about 10 million homeowners nationally who owe more mortgage on their homes than the worth of it, Obama said the government would need the help of individuals to bring the country out of the housing crisis. He said people, much like banks, need to be held accountable and accept responsibility for their roles. He said some people go into debt buying homes they can’t afford and banks package mortgages that prey on those people.
“Buying a home is the most important purchase a family makes,” Obama said. “The potential for abuse is too great.”
While part of the crowd chanted “Four more years,” at the conclusion of Obama’s speech, Nettie Harris praised the president for his approach to repairing the housing crisis. Harris, 78, of Falls Church, said she has owned her home for about four years, but has lived in the area all of her life. She said the president is right that some people are living beyond their means.
“Some people bought homes they thought they could afford and then the market fell out,” Harris said.
Herman Smith, also of Falls Church, has owned his barbershop since 1986 and has owned his home since 1978. He said the president’s speech was on point and correct. He said people need help getting on their feet in some cases but in order for Obama’s plan to work, the president will need some help.
“He’s going to have to have some help from Congress,” Smith said.
Obama said he will definitely need help from Congress, but promised the packed room that he would do all he could do. He said no program or policy alone will help the housing crisis, but an effort will be made.
“Americans making a down payment on their dream shouldn’t be frightened by pages of fine print,” Obama said.