Longtime North Omaha Resident Gains a Place of Her Own
Habitat Omaha’s Homeownership Program
Cydnee loves north Omaha, especially its rich history in the arts. Unfortunately, she has struggled with finding an affordable place to live in the community — until recently.
After years of renting, she never thought she could someday afford a home because of her student-loan debt.
“I don’t even have anything on my credit besides student loans,” she said.
An affordable apartment with help from an assistance program had kept her from sleeping on friends’ couches, but didn’t solve all of her problems or help fulfill her goal of becoming a homeowner. “You are living in someone else’s space; they can increase the rent, or the (landlord) can decide they don’t want to (accept your rental assistance) anymore, and then you are back at square one pretty much,” Cydnee said.
She did not like the yearly inspections required and strict rules laid out by her landlord and the assistance program. Then, in March 2021, the mother of four watched a news story about Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and saw a way out of her rental situation. This news story explained how Habitat for Humanity of Omaha builds and sells houses to community members across the metro.
The information prompted her to call the organization. During a virtual introductory meeting, Cydnee discovered Habitat Omaha helps individuals explore solutions to credit issues that can be barriers to homeownership. “I felt relief. This is something I can actually do,” Cydnee said.
She applied to the Homeownership program in August 2021, but did not qualify because her debt-to-income ratio was too high. Habitat Omaha Family Services staff then worked diligently with her to reduce her debt-to-income ratio through multiple methods, including refinancing her vehicle and procuring a $2 per hour raise from her employer.
On Dec. 3, 2021, she became a future Habitat Omaha homeowner, and like all clients, she completed three classes: buyer’s education, information about debt, collections and how to purchase a residence; personal finance; and post-purchase information. These classes help ensure clients are successful homeowners. Cydnee finished all three education classes in one month. She then completed 175 hours of sweat equity and looked at options for her forever home.
Cydnee and her children drove past their soon-to-be home as it was being built. Small victories such as the walls going up, windows being installed, or their house being painted kept her motivated. She officially signed her mortgage paperwork and was given the keys to her new home last November.
She kept her closing date a secret from her children, as they thought they were moving in on Jan. 15, 2023. One week after closing, she parked the car in the driveway and opened the garage door upon arriving at the home instead of driving by like usual. She told the kids to come out of the car, but they hesitated, thinking the home was not theirs yet.
She convinced them to leave the car and enter the house. Once the children were inside, they ran around the house excitedly and found their brand-new rooms, which Cydnee had identified by decorating each door with a wooden letter corresponding to their first initial.
This joyous moment of surprising her children is the beginning of a new chapter as a homeowner for Cydnee and her family. “(Being a homeowner) means I have something I can pass down to future generations and build memories with. I know that there is no landlord that is going to raise the rent,” Cydnee said.
After 10 years of renting, Cydnee is finally able to enjoy the comforts of homeownership.
Cydnee and her two daughters