Steven and Madeline Rosa moved into their new forever home in November 2022.
Owning a home had been a decades-long dream for Steven and Madeline Rosa. Steven moved to York in 1985 and Madeline in 1994 from Puerto Rico. They met and were married 21 years ago and raised their family while renting houses in York. Purchasing a home, especially a new one, felt forever out of reach.
“We wanted to buy a house,” Steven says, “but we knew how expensive the houses are.”
For Steven, at 55 years old, the thought of taking out a mortgage, then paying tens of thousands of dollars in interest on top of that, felt overwhelming.
From hole to home
Then the couple learned about York Habitat for Humanity. Madeline’s sister had gone through the nonprofit organization’s home ownership program to purchase her house in West York. The Rosas decided to look into it. They signed up for the program in April 2021.
The program required that they complete a homebuyer education course and financial counseling, make mortgage payments on time, keep their home and property maintained, and be good neighbors. Each of them also had to put in 255 hours of sweat equity volunteering with the organization.
When the Rosas joined the York Habitat for Humanity program, their future home was a hole in the ground on Chestnut Street, where a row of townhouses had been destroyed in a fire and demolished. York Habitat for Humanity offered to build a row of houses on the site.
Steven spent his volunteer hours working with other volunteers, including students from York College of Pennsylvania and Dover Area High School, to build six townhouses on the old footprint. In the process, he learned to work with concrete, drywall, and insulation. He spent hours smoothing floors and sanding walls, erecting homes alongside fellow volunteers for fellow York Habitat for Humanity applicants hoping to find their home.
“It made the whole experience fun for me to come and work and be with them,” Steven says.
Madeline spent her volunteer hours at the York Habitat ReStore, helping to sell donated home goods and working in the office. She also prepared meals for fellow volunteers and helped with the finishing touches on the new houses.
‘A big dream come true’
As their new home neared completion, Madeline and Steven were brought in to choose their finishes—paint colors, countertops, floors, and carpets.
Finally, in November 2022, a year and a half after joining the program, the Rosas had a new home. The three-story house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the first two floors. The third floor is partially finished, and with a little additional sweat equity, it will have two bedrooms and a bathroom.
For Madeline, who is disabled, the stairs in her rental house were always a struggle. York Habitat for Humanity surprised her by installing all her necessities on the first floor and building a ramp to the back door.
Madeline’s favorite spot is her cozy recliner right by the front door where she can sit and look out her new front window. For Steven, it’s all about the two dedicated parking spaces they have behind the house. In his rental home, he had to park a block away.
The best part, though, is knowing that the house is theirs.
“To come in and see how it was done, finished, it was great,” Steven says, “to know that we had something to do with the house being built.”
“I can’t believe this is for us,” Madeline says was her first thought when she walked into her finished home. “It’s gorgeous. I love it.”
The Rosas call their new York Habitat for Humanity dwelling their forever home. They never again have to worry about being forced to move because the landlord sold the building or increased the rent. They have peace of mind knowing they never want to live anywhere else.
In Madeline’s words, “It’s a big dream come true.”