(ARA) - Whether the issue that interests you most is job creation or tax fairness, affordable health care or renewable energy, chances are you'll be watching what happens in the presidential campaign over the next several months. The outcome of the 2012 presidential race - like every other one before it - will directly affect the lives of all Americans.
A new online series by Yahoo! News, "Remake America," is helping put a human face on some of the race's most-talked-about issues. The program follows the lives of six real families struggling to recapture "the American dream." By putting relatable, human faces on some of the campaign's most-talked-about issues, the series aims to offer meaningful, understandable insight into the political issues at the forefront of the election, including unemployment, health care, veteran affairs and the housing market.
Experts in career services, small business ownership, personal finance, health and veterans affairs counsel families throughout the series. Viewers can contribute their comments, personal stories, anecdotes and advice through the "Remake America" conversations page.
The featured families face challenges that are common among Americans, including:
Unemployment - Kirk and LaTosha of Houston both worked until Kirk was laid off from his IT job. Now the family lives paycheck to paycheck on LaTosha's income from her job as a government counselor connecting families with income assistance programs. Even though her family is just one paycheck away from homelessness, LaTosha's income still surpasses the maximum amount to qualify for assistance.
Bill and Donna of Calabash, N.C., owned two homes, traveled the world and provided for their three children until a stroke left Bill unable to work as hard as he had been. He opened his own business, but the economy has brought his company to the brink of collapse. They now face foreclosure on their home. Their daughter, Erin, a single mother of 3-year-old twins, also faced foreclosure in the past year. She took on a roommate to help pay for her mortgage.
Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert and host of "Financially Fit," advises people facing foreclosure to act quickly when they receive the first notice of foreclosure from the bank. Call the bank and ask for help, she says. The bank may be able to steer you toward a mortgage modification or even a forbearance that may allow you to suspend payments without penalty for a time. Also, check out www.makinghomeaffordable.gov to learn about any federal programs that may be helpful.
Kyle and Krystal of Mt. Pleasant, Mich., face health challenges, medical bills and unemployment. While serving as a Marine, Kyle lost a hand during combat. The couple's oldest child suffers from a rare genetic disorder that requires round-the-clock care, making it difficult for her parents to work full time. Jose and Starlight of Austin, Texas, also face health issues that have devastated their finances. While a law student, Starlight fell ill and lost her scholarship. Her son has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. Without an income, the family cannot pay for living expenses or health insurance.
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, advises families coping with health problems to remember to take care of themselves first in order to maximize efficiency and resources, embrace help, and research support groups.
The real estate collapse
Leslie, of Phoenix, Ariz., lost her job as a successful real estate agent and has gone on more than 100 job interviews with no result. She currently lives in her guest house while renting out her main home as a source of income.
"Remake America's" career expert, Tory Johnson, advises Leslie and other job hunters to keep three things in mind: don't rely too much on the Internet for your job hunt, make face-to-face connections through in-person networking, and never lose sight of your goals.
"Remake America" airs new episodes on Yahoo! News every Monday. To join the conversation, log onto news.yahoo.com/elections/remake-america/.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Copyright-free photos courtesy of Michelle Ellisor