President Barack Obama Thursday met with several families who have recently refinanced their homes in an event designed to highlight the administration's efforts to address the housing crisis.

Obama, noting that the for many the essence of the American dream is home ownership, said that his administration's efforts to reduce interest rates are a key element in solving the housing crisis.

What you've seen now is rates are as low as they've been since 1971, Obama said. And as a consequence of us being able to reduce the interest rates that are available, we have now seen some extraordinary jumps in the rate of mortgage refinancings.

He added, Everybody here represents families who have saved hundreds of dollars a month, thousands of dollars a year in some cases, and that's money directly in their pocket. . It has given them the kind of security and stability in their mortgage payments that a lot more people can take advantage of.

Obama also noted that there has been an 88 percent increase in refinancing in the last month, with government-backed mortgage giant Fannie Mae refinancing $77 billion in mortgages in march alone.

We are at a time where people can really take advantage of this, he said. What we want to do is to send a message that if you are having problems with your mortgage, and even if you're not and you just want to save some money, you can go to . and immediately find out whether or not you are potentially eligible for one of these . mortgage refinancings.

Obama emphasized that the programs being put forward by his administration were designed to help responsible homeowners who may have fallen on hard times.

Everybody here represent responsible homeowners who made their payments, who have jobs and income that support their mortgages, he said. In some cases, people may have had difficulties because they lost a job, somebody in their family got sick, they may have missed some payments -- and in those cases we also want to be helpful and we are putting in place a loan modification program, working with banks, working with services, that will allow other folks who are closer to losing their home in a stronger position in the future.

He added, The main message we want to send today is, is that the programs that have been put in place can help responsible folks who have been making their payments, who are not looking for a handout, but this allows them make some changes that will leave money in their pockets and leave them more secure in their homes.

According to the White House, 7 million to 9 million Americans could be eligible to refinance their mortgages through the administration's efforts.

Obama also warned against those seeking to take advantage against struggling homeowners under the guise of federal programs.

As people have become aware that the government is helping to promote refinancing, we're starting to see some scam artists out there who are contacting people saying, you can refinance your home, the government has got a program, we're ready to help -- oh, but by the way, first you've got to pay some money, he said. I just want everybody who is watching today to know that if somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing, it's probably a scam.

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