Obama praises Phoenix recovery during visit to Arizona - CBS 5 - KPHO

Obama praises Phoenix recovery during visit to Arizona

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Calling Phoenix "Ground Zero" when the housing bubble burst in 2008, President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined his plans for helping the country's middle class reclaim the American dream of responsible home ownership. 

The president brought his ideas to a city that was one of the hardest hit by the housing bubble and ensuing recession, but also one the president credited for paving the way to recovery.

He said the country needs to build a strategy that ensures anyone who works hard can succeed.

"Arizona can recognize that," he told a crowd of about 2,000 students and faculty at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee. "For the past four years you have fought your way back."

"Thanks to people like you, you have helped clear the rubble of financial crises," he said.

Obama said the nation, including Phoenix, are showing signs of recovery.

"Phoenix has led one of the greatest comebacks in the country," he said. "Home prices have risen by nearly 20 percent over the last year. New home sales are up by 25 percent."

He pointed to a Chevrolet plant in Chandler that plans to hire 1,000 new workers, and to a Chandler construction company he toured with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan Tuesday that has rebounded from the housing crises.

"Erickson Construction downsized to as few as 100 workers when the housing bubble burst," he said. "Now, they have 580 workers and are hiring more because the housing market is bouncing back."

The president laid out five areas he said are critical to creating a housing system that is durable and fair and rewards responsible home ownership for generations to come:

  • Help responsible homeowners save $3,000 a year by allowing them to refinance their mortgages at today's rates.
  • Cut red tape to make it easier for qualified buyers to purchase homes they can afford.
  • Fix what he called the broken immigration system to help increase home values.
  • Help rebuild communities that were the hardest hit when the housing market bottomed out.
  • Make sure families who can't buy or don't want to buy still have decent places to rent.

Most importantly, he said, the country must guard against re-inflating home prices that could result in another housing bubble.

"I hope everyone in Arizona learned hard lessons from what happened," he said. "Housing prices can't go up at the pace it was forever. It was crazy. It needs to be steady."

The president also said that private capital should take bigger roles in the housing market.

A key element of the president's strategy includes shutting down the government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs and replacing them with a process that would involve private sector companies purchasing mortgages from lenders.

The crowd at Desert Vista High School broke into a rendition of Happy Birthday to celebrate Obama's 52nd birthday this week.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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