Laotian refugee finds success as a real estate agent in the US

Blia Cha’s story began on a Hmong farm in her native Laos and took her all the way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the USA. It is there she found success as a real estate agent. In a recent story published by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Blia recounted her journey.

It began in 1975 as the Vietnam War was coming to an end. She was unable to remain in Laos because her husband had worked for the CIA as a radio operator. The situation at home was deemed to be too dangerous. The couple ended up at a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to the United States in 1976. A few years later, the pair eventually settled in Milwaukee.

Once in America, she began studying English and a landed a job in a factory before later being hired as an interpreter. In 1993, she would join broker and housing specialist at non-profit ACTS Housing. There she has helped renters buy and improve inexpensive and often dilapidated homes in the greater Milwaukee area.

Helping refugees find a home

Blia ended up working with clients of all different backgrounds including refugees from Southeast Asia. People from Laos, Thailand and Myanmar all found a helping hand from the generous Blia who took a similar path to the US as they did.


She has been able to ensure refugees can own a home by helping them navigate the red tape the home buying process involves. Her role didn’t pay her at first, so she volunteered and learned the business. Blia would earn her sales and broker licenses in the coming months and years, impressing then ACTS Housing boss John Worm as a result.

“This woman from the hills of Laos was able to do all that,” Worm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “She worked hard. She was there Saturdays and Sundays.”

At the end of the day, Blia’s goals were simple. All she wanted to do was assist families, many of whom were in a new country, looking for a home they could call their own.

“I’ve been talking about improving your neighbourhood,” Blia stated. “I kept telling my buyers if there’s a house nearby on your block and you want your relatives to buy, you call me and I can help your family stay together so you can help each other babysitting and watch after each other for the safety of your family.”

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