It’s always nice to get out of Washington for a little while and come to places like this – because the climate’s a lot nicer and so is the conversation. So I’m looking forward to taking your questions and hearing about your concerns – and I look forward to telling you about the work my Administration is doing to address them.
But one thing I don’t need to tell you is that these are challenging times. I don’t need to tell you this because you’re living it every day. Between December of last year and January of this year, this state lost more than half a million jobs, and one out of every ten Californians is now out of work. Housing prices here have fallen 20 percent in the past year, and you’ve got one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.
So I know times are tough – in Los Angeles, in California, and all across this country. But here’s what I want you to remember: we are going to meet these challenges, and we will come out on the other side a stronger and more prosperous nation. I can’t tell you how long it will take or what obstacles we will face along the way, but I can promise you this – there will be brighter days ahead.
Because of the Recovery Act I signed into law last month – and that your two outstanding senators, Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer, worked so hard to pass – we’re making major investments to create jobs right here in California: rebuilding infrastructure, weatherizing homes, putting more police on the streets, supporting community health centers, and more. Altogether, we expect to create or save 396,000 jobs in this state over the next two years.
But we also know that we cannot create as many jobs as we want, or rebuild our economy as we hope, without addressing the problem at the heart of this economic crisis – our housing crisis. We know that fixing that crisis – breaking that cycle of falling home values and rising foreclosures – is the key to fixing our economy.
That’s why we’ve launched a housing plan that will help millions of responsible homeowners save money by refinancing or modifying their mortgages. Our plan included important steps to help lower interest rates. And today, millions of Americans – folks who never thought they’d be able to lower their monthly payments – are now able to take advantage of these rates, which are the lowest they’ve been in decades. Already, we’re seeing a burst of refinancing. Refinancing applications jumped 30 percent last week, to more than double the rate we had last fall, saving the average homeowner hundreds of dollars a month – the equivalent of a generous tax cut. That’s money you can use right now to pay your bills, or pay off your debts, or save up for a rainy day.
And today we launched a new website – www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov – to help borrowers determine whether they’re eligible for