It can be a marathon to get everyone out the door in the mornings at Beatriz Camargo’s house — a seven-bedroom home in Cotati she shares with her husband, three kids, parents, two brothers, a sister and a golden retriever named Luna.
In a house with three generations under the same roof even the most mundane tasks, like getting ready for work, can be a challenge. But this family has their routine down.
Camargo is among the first to rise. She makes lunch for the kids while her husband and children get dressed and chomp down their breakfast. Her father typically is awake by then, getting ready for work at a local fish distributor. His wife then gets up to ready their 31-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who’s physically and developmentally disabled, for school. A bus picks her up each morning to take her to a Santa Rosa day program for people with special needs.
Mornings can be chaotic, said Camargo, coordinator of Santa Rosa Junior College’s High School Equivalency Program, which helps agricultural workers and their families earn their GED. However, it’s become easier over the years.
“We always respect everyone’s space,” said Camargo, 35, who has lived with extended family since she was a child. While it helps to share the bills, she said living in a multigenerational household is more about culture and unity.
“It’s that commitment (to family),” she said.
Multiple generations living under one roof is not a new phenomenon among Latino families, but it is on the rise in the United States.
The number of Americans living in households with at least two adult generations have doubled since 1980, said Richard Fry, a senior economist with the Washington-based Pew Research Center. The increase is, in part, due to the growing number of Latinos in the country.
Latinos are far more likely than whites to live in multigenerational households, Fry said. Almost one in four Latinos in the United States — or 24 percent — lived in multigenerational households in 2012, according to the latest data analyzed by Pew. By comparison, only 14 percent of non-Hispanic whites — or one in seven — lived in these kinds of households.
The trend reflects, in part, efforts by Latinos to preserve traditions from their descending countries.
“In Mexico and Central America, multigenerational living is pretty common,” he said.
It’s an arrangement Noemi Acosta has been familiar with since she was a child living in a small town in northern Michoacán, Mexico. She lived in the same house with her grandparents. Her great-grandparents lived a few doors down. She watched as her aunts and uncles cared for their ailing grandparents, which made a big impression on her.
Acosta, now married and with two children, ages 1 and 5, moved in with her parents and 20-year-old brother this past summer in Santa Rosa after living in Oxnard for three years. She said it was a struggle to be away from her close-knit family all that time.
“It was difficult for me not to have my parents’ support,” said Acosta, 29.
Her mother helps her with child care, giving Acosta the opportunity to study and work. Acosta, who recently obtained her high-school equivalency diploma, is taking English-language courses at SRJC and tutors students in the college’s HEP program.