Blue’s Homeownership Journey
Blue is right where she wants to be.
She is in her new, white, black-trimmed five-bedroom home with her husband and two children. However, her feeling is built on more than an address. It is about the place she is in her life.
Blue and her family – husband Soe Soe, daughter Eirene, 4, and newborn son, Ywar – are part of a new community where she says her family, her God and her need to help others are centered in Habitat for Humanity of Omaha’s Bluestem Development.
That feeling of comfortable belonging was not always prevalent in the young mother’s life. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her parents, Karen people, emigrated to Thailand from Myanmar to escape war and religious and political turmoil. Then, they made it to the United States. In spite of all the turmoil in her young life, one of the things that created anxiety and cast doubt presented itself in Blue’s new country. It was the thought of homeownership.
“I was scared to become a homeowner,” Blue said. “My income was too low, and we didn’t have anything (credit) that we could prove to buy a house.” Even living with her parents to help her on her journey did not help with her dream of an affordable home. “But they were very supportive,” she said. “They wanted me to find a place of my own.”
Some of Blue’s first homeownership steps were unusual compared to other new Habitat Omaha homeowners. Many of them need to reduce their debt from credit. Blue had to establish credit. “I never had a credit card, and I had to open lines of credit and build it (my credit) up.”
She also had to increase her income. Blue was working with Karen immigrants and refugees through a mentoring program. It was a job with tremendous rewards but little pay. That job is where Blue first encountered Habitat Omaha. While working with the families, she sometimes accessed Habitat Omaha services.
It was an instant match. She began working part-time for Habitat Omaha while attending the University of Nebraska Omaha with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Now, she is a full-time Program Associate helping other families navigate their journey to homeownership.
Blue’s supervisor and co-workers also were her supporters and cheerleaders throughout her home ownership journey. “I didn’t know how to even apply,” she said. “Everybody in the office was very supportive – even before I became a full-time employee. They all told me I could do it.”
Now, as she and her husband turn the key to open the door to their new home, Blue is happy and proud. “I’m really happy where I am right now. I am close to my parents, and at some point, I’m going to be able to help other Karen refugee families with home ownership,” she said. “It is where I want to be.”
She also is grateful to her God. One of her first home celebrations will include her pastor to pray over her home and family. “I pray for God’s approval for everything I do. This house is a good house, and I pray we have a happy life here.”