US President Barack Obama urged Congress Saturday to pass a mortgage plan to help troubled homeowners refinance their loans and save $3,000 a year.

"It's a plan that we know will work," the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"It has the support of independent, non-partisan economists and leaders across the housing industry," he added.

"It's a no-brainer that should have passed easily."

Obama blamed Republicans in Congress for blocking the measure, which he had introduced last February. It would have allowed responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages at historically low rates, saving $3,000 a year.

His comments came amid signs that after years of downward slide, the US housing market was beginning to rebound.

The Commerce Department reported this past week that US housing starts -- construction starting on houses -- had leapt 15.0 percent from August to September to an annual rate of 872,000: the strongest pace since July 2008.

Starts were up 34.8 percent year-over-year.

The monthly gain was well above the average analyst forecast of 768,000.

The Commerce Department also revised its prior two months' gains upwards, notably by 1.8 point to 4.1 percent for August.

Noting this improvement, Obama said that "one of the heaviest drags on our recovery is getting lighter."

But more still needed to be done, he cautioned.

"Too many homes are still underwater," he warned.

"Too many families are still having a hard time making the mortgage on their piece of the American Dream."