GLENDALE, Ariz. — A Valley man fought to care for his siblings, but after having his work hours reduced, his family is at risk of losing their childhood home unless they can get nearly $14,000 in a week.
When Raul Acosta was 18 years old, he was forced to step up and care for his seven siblings. His mother had become ill, and she could no longer care for them.
“My mom ended up passing away, and then I ended up being a dad to seven kids essentially,” he said.
He ended up becoming his siblings' legal guardian with the help of a pro-bono attorney.
The father of Acosta's siblings died three years later, at which point Acosta's life had drastically changed.
No family members were willing to take in the seven children. So, Acosta became the legal guardian and conservator of his brothers and sisters; the youngest was just a year and a half old.
“I took on the responsibility. I wasn’t willing to let them go into foster care, get separated, and having to find each other later on,” Acosta said. “It could be tragic.”
Attorney Sandra Creta was sought out by Children’s Legal Services to help the family stay together.
“I was so impressed by his maturity,” Creta said when first meeting Acosta. She was initially concerned about granting guardianship of seven children to a 21-year-old.
“The fact that he had already been packing lunches, braiding hair, changing diapers, using his money from his job at Burger King to fix up the house for years,” she added. “He was already the dad to the little ones.”
Acosta struggled but was able to raise the children and pay the mortgage by working as a tow truck driver until the pandemic hit.
His hours were reduced, and it was hard for him to make ends meet on top of losing state benefits, like food and cash assistance and Medicaid in December.
Acosta and six of his siblings are at risk of being homeless.
The now 26-year-old got behind on mortgage payments and now needs to pay $13,728.40 by May 6. If he doesn't, his family will lose their childhood home.
“It got rough, and now they’re trying to sell the house essentially, foreclose on it,” he said.
Creta reached out to the Association of Sole Practitioners and Small Firms of Arizona to help her get the mortgage loan in Acosta’s name. Andera Gutierrez and Danielle Graham stepped in to help.
“He didn’t ask for help, but there was no way I was letting this family lose their home,” Creta said.
“We’re hoping to save it and fix it up; there’s a lot of things that need work around it,” Acosta said. “It’s not the prettiest, but it’s a roof over our head.
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