With the support of the nonprofit organization, Maggie Villafane not only helped rehabilitate homes for others but built the foundation for a better future for herself and her family.
Born and raised in York, Maggie Villafane always had rented. Repeatedly moving from apartment to apartment, the prospect of owning a home seemed unrealistic.
In 2012, with a new baby and hoping for a better future for her family, Maggie turned to York Habitat for Humanity.
"I saw it as the perfect opportunity to have our first home,” she says. “I think if we would have gone the traditional route, I felt like we wouldn’t have been able to afford it."
Striving for a common goal
Just over a decade ago, Maggie’s family started the process of buying a York Habitat for Humanity home. Unlike many York Habitat homes, this York City townhome was not new construction or a rehab project. It had been renovated and needed only the addition of central air-conditioning.
Those who go through York Habitat for Humanity to purchase a home are required to put in several hundred hours of “sweat equity,” working on projects to help advance York Habitat’s mission. Because Maggie’s home didn’t need volunteer work, her sweat equity involved helping to renovate other Habitat homes in her community. She spent hours sanding and painting.
Despite the hard work, Maggie felt empowered and connected to the community, working alongside families and volunteers, all striving for a common goal: a home of their own.
‘I knew Habitat had our back’
Throughout the process, York Habitat for Humanity provided much-needed guidance and reassurance. It offered first-time homebuyer classes and budgeting lessons, equipping Maggie with the knowledge and confidence to navigate her new responsibilities.
Opening the door to her home for the first time marked a milestone.
"It was awesome. It was a good feeling,” she says. “I was kind of nervous because it was so new, but I knew York Habitat had our back."
Ten years later, the York Habitat house that served as a steppingstone to stability became a springboard for Maggie’s next journey. She and her husband sold their York Habitat home in April 2023, driven by a desire to provide a better school environment and more space for their children.
"It was awesome to have an asset to sell,” she says.
Through the years, the family had built equity in the home and made several upgrades, redoing the floors and adding a second bathroom, increasing its market value. The sale not only provided financial resources for the couple’s next home purchase but allowed them to pay off all their debt.
Changing the trajectory
Today, Maggie and her husband work with Affordable Housing Advocates, an organization that frequently collaborates with York Habitat for Humanity. Maggie’s firsthand experience with Habitat changed their lives and equipped them with unique insights and empathy for their clients who are embarking on their own homeownership journeys.
"Our experience helped me understand what my clients go through,” she says.
Maggie is proud of the stability she and her family have achieved. Her children, who used to move frequently, had the chance to grow up in a house they could call home. The couple are now on a financial footing that will allow them to change their future.
Organizations such as York Habitat for Humanity can fundamentally alter the trajectory of lives, creating legacies that echo well beyond the structures they build.