In three days, I will be homeless.

This is not by choice (although many individuals before me have chosen this lifestyle and enjoyed the freedoms that it can offer, and if that is what works for them, kudos!) Personally, I enjoy having a permanent residence and the sense of stability and security that it gives me. I look forward to living in an actual house again. However, it is what it is – in three days, I will be homeless. There are no caveats here, no “maybe” or “unless” or “possibly I can come up with something before then”. Come Thursday, February 26, I will be making my way on the streets of Orange County as best I can, and I will be considered that most stigmatized of people – a homeless woman.

Initially, the idea of this terrified me. Here is a summary of the commentary that first ran through my head: This would never happen to me. I am not the kind of person that lives on the street. I have a life, I have friends, I have a dog, I have stable employment and residential history, references, education, skills, talents – I have worked hard all of my life to ensure stability for myself. How did this happen, HOW CAN I DO THIS?!?!?!?!

So, I cried for a few hours. I cried and I let the panic run its course. Then, I started planning.

I wonder how many other people like me are out there. People who had the stereotypical idea of a homeless man or woman, who believed that it would not, could not, happen to them. The truth is, we never know the whole story. We don’t know other people’s circumstances. You can speculate that the wino sitting outside the 7-11 begging for change is there because he’s too lazy or stupid or uneducated or selfish or mentally ill. But will we ever truly know? Look at me. I’ve worked hard for all of my adult life (and all of my adolescence), sought out a college education, worked for corporations and executives, built a life and a “secure” foundation to fall back upon. Yet, here I am. So, now what?

You may wonder how I got here. I will give you a summed-up, generic background on me:

I grew up in Orange County, CA. I got excellent grades and tested in top percentiles at school. I was considered a precocious student and skipped a grade. I taught myself to read at 2 years of age, and I read newspapers, novels, anything I could get my hands on. My family situation was never the best (I have a mentally ill parent who has rejected consistent diagnoses, medication, and advice from various friends, doctors and therapists. It all boils down to the fact that you can’t help someone who refuses to admit that they have a problem). I was subjected to various physical/mental/emotional abuse for the majority of my life, and sexual abuse from an estranged family member while a toddler. Despite all of this, I strove to rise above my personal situation. I created a mental image of who I wanted to be. I fought, and continue to fight, to live up to that image and resolve some of the less savory tendencies that I have, whether they are biological or learned from the examples that I witnessed growing up. I am proud of the progress that I have made and the life that I have built. I am proud of who I am, as well as who I am evolving into.

I started working “under the table” at 10, as I knew how to pass for older than I actually was. I got a legal work permit at 12 years old and went to work full-time in addition to schooling (how many 8th grade students do you know with two secular jobs after school lets out?) I supported my parent and younger sister from ages 12 – 18. At two points as a teenager, I was physically thrown out of the house while my parent was in the throes of a bipolar depressive episode. Both times, I was on my own for a couple of months, until said parent tracked me down through school, reported me as a runaway and sent police to retrieve me from the friends’ house where I was staying.

At 18 I left for good and got a roommate. Over the next several years, I enrolled myself into college and worked my way from entry-level, minimum-wage jobs into administrative and legal secretary positions, then onwards up to an Executive Assistant at a major corporation. For a long time, I always had at least two jobs, sometimes three. When I landed my Exec. Asst. gig, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had arrived, I could concentrate on only one job, I was earning the means to live on my own, in my own house, sans roommates. I rented a cute cottage towards the beach area and enjoyed the little life that I had built for myself. I got myself a dog. I dated. I loved. I worked. I had fun. Even with the occasional disappointment or blip that happens to everyone, life was good.

In July of 2008, my corporation had mass layoffs. The economy was beginning to crumble, and the auto industry was the first to be affected due to the skyrocketing prices of gas. Over 280 out of 500 employees were laid off, and I was among them. The company that I worked for was enormously kind and fair to each and every one of us, and compensated us well with a severance package, so I was OK for a while. I did some temp-to-hire work for an environmental engineering company for a few months, but they ended up having layoffs right before Christmas 2008 and again I was out of a job. Since then, I have been searching for employment without success. I am on extended unemployment benefits, but I prefer actual work. Salaries have been slashed by at least 20% (often more) so I have no hope of making what I used to, but that is to be expected – I’m in good company, at the moment it’s a status symbol simply to have a job at all.

In the past three months I have sent out several hundred resumés and applications, some as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Whereas it used to take me a matter of days to find employment, it is now rare for me to even receive calls for interviews – there are simply too many people out there responding to every advertisement. I do all that I can to make my application stand out, but when it comes down to it, hiring managers must sift through hundreds of resumés for every single position. My chances are severely handicapped at this point, but all I can do is forage on.

Against my better judgment, I moved out of my cottage and in with my bipolar parent at her suggestion. I figured that it would be relatively temporary and would cut my living costs dramatically while I continued to search for unemployment. For just over two months, somehow I made it work. Until two days ago. On a downward bipolar cycle, my parent attacked me and ordered me out of the house. I have been told to leave immediately, but police informed me that I could require a 30-day notice, which I waived as long as I had five days to find other arrangements.

Could I ask friends for help? Possibly. However, my closest friends have so many problems of their own right now – many of them are out of work, or live in small apartments, or have various other personal problems and I am certain that I would be a burden and an imposition on them. There is also the problem of my (very large) mastiff, who I would not dream of selfishly dragging with me into someone else’s home.

So, here I am.

Luckily for me (and my dog!), I recently inherited a truck and travel trailer. Around New Year’s Eve, my biological father committed suicide. I had not seen or had any form of contact with him in over 20 years. There was no suicide note, and it fell to me as the eldest child to divy up his assets (of which there were few) among his four surviving children (my sister and I, and two half-sisters from a second marriage, whom I had never met before). This successfully accomplished, I was left with the aforementioned truck and travel trailer, both of which have registration and insurance paid up through July.

If you are an individual in a similar situation (especially a single, vulnerable woman), I hope that by detailing my experiences in this blog, I may help you come up with tips and ideas for survival and safety for however long your present circumstances may last. Perhaps you didn’t choose for this to happen, but it is what it is. It is happening and you must stay strong and level-headed, so that you can make opportunities happen for yourself and dig yourself out of this hole.

Perhaps you’re not homeless, have never been homeless, and are currently not faced with the threat of becoming homeless. Maybe you are reading this because homelessness is a topic close to your heart, or maybe you just feel that you should cultivate some knowledge on survival skills, because with the economy the way it is right now, who knows what will happen in the future? In any event, I hope that my postings will give you something to think about and/or something to laugh about, for humor can be mined from even the most dire of circumstances.

I have just over $300 cash to my name, in addition to various personal belongings. I have three days to take my plans for the coming weeks/months and put them into motion. I have never been homeless before and I will not deny that I am afraid, but I plan to face this with humor and dignity. I can do this. I can do this without becoming a casualty or a stereotype. I can be homeless and still clean, nourished, confident, well-dressed, dry in the rain, and warm at night. I can make wise and preventive decisions that will help protect me and keep me safe in tenuous circumstances. I can and will continue to bring in revenue, interview, and locate permanent employment. I can be a tall woman with flaming red hair, a jowly and imposing Neapolitan mastiff, and a 30-foot RV in tow and still manage to remain inconspicuous and under the radar (…right?). I think that if a wussy chick like me can do all of this, then anybody can.


  1. I found your blog and I just wanted to write and say I hope that you do get your house. You are a very persistent girl. I was homeless years ago after having to leave a very bad roommate situation. I had not job either. i did eventually find a super good shelter in Santa Ana and found a good job,then recently lost it it Sept. And am now on extended benefits until sometime next year. I did find a part time job and went back to finish college. And i am supposed to get my housing voucher this summer. but the thought of the possibility of being homeless again is always on my mind. Please keep in touch with me if you can.

    I also have a regular blog. The blog I entered here is a new one I started to write about my experience from the beginning from back in 2006.

  2. Hey Christine!

    Thanks so much for the compliment; I do tend to be persistent although it’s often hard and I feel sometimes like throwing my hands in the air and saying “screw it”, haha.

    That said, I love your blog. You write very well and very openly and honestly about the difficult, traumatic, personal things. I kind of summed up all of mine in this initial blog post and tried to move on quickly to more neutral territory; although I suppose at some point I may want to delve more deeply there. It impresses me that you can.

    Best of luck on the housing voucher, I hope so much that you don’t end up homeless again! Sounds like you worked really hard to reverse your circumstances. May I link to your blog? I think there is a lot of valuable information to be mined from it.

    Thanks so much for following, and for sharing your experiences with the world!!!

    ~B~ :)

    • B -

      Hey I read the write up on you on Yahoo this morning, and then read through the comments folks gave in response to your story. First off, you know you will accomplish anything you put your mind to, you are a survivor and you have an open mind and that’s half the battle. Good for you making lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. A book deal, on CNN, basically a media sensation over night…………..Good for you!

      I believe that, as unfortuate as it may seem, sometimes you gotta ‘lose to gain.’ It’s often the mistakes we make or the hardships we have to go through that strength our spirit and really define who we are as a person in the end. It is through experience that we gain insight and knowledge that we didn’t have before. They say that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

      I got a very different message in reading about your story, one that has nothing to do with Homelessness. The message I got was that of — finding your nitich, your life-changing ‘ah-ha’ moment, and surprisely finding how that moment is often the most unexpected or unanticipated moment you would have ever expected it to be.

      I have been wanting to write a book about something, just don’t know what. I have been waiting for that ‘ah-ha’ moment, that comes out of nowhere and inspires me to write something that I just gotta write about. Anyway, so hearing your story has made me gain a better understanding about where my inspiration is going to be coming from. So, thank you for that ‘ah-ha’ moment regarding my ‘ah-ha’ moment so to speak. (smile). You are proof…… that life is what you make it. Life is going to throw us all alot of obstacles and challenges, but your life isn’t defined by those bad experiences, it’s defined by how you handle or deal with those obstacles. Your life is defined by what you take away from those experiences!!! Yes, that is what your story really is all about, not homelessness. Is half of America ever going to get this message……………..

    • Hi ! B, You are a very courageous woman and determined, dont loose faith in that! god will be there to protect you and keep you safe, making sure you make good decisions of keeping yourself safe, I love that you still have the care for your dog, i would do the same. I hope god makes a way for you to have a permanent job and home for you and your dog, my prayers are with you, these are trying times and your courage gives inspiration to myself and others about preservance! Your Great!

  3. I found your blog via Urlesque who wrote a piece on Matt’s post about your love story. I’m a sucker for a good love story.

    Anyway, I haven’t ever been homeless but I very nearly almost was. Mid-last year I left a ‘safe’ corporate job to go travelling and spend time on a yoga retreat. When I came back, the market had started to change and it took me a couple of months to find a job, around October last year.

    In the interim, I stayed with my parents, but it really didn’t work out and if anything, further damaged my relationship with my parents. They thought I was stupid for leaving my job, even though mental health-wise, it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

    Once I could afford it, I found a little apartment for myself, which is probably the best place I’ve ever lived in. Then, in February this year, I was made redundant.

    I did have a little money socked away, so I was able to support myself BUT as you mentioned, after sending out hundreds of resumes, very little was happening.

    I literally (in the very correct use of the word) staved off total bankruptcy when I found a contract job a couple of weeks ago. I’m still waiting to be paid (end of next week), so things are tight. But I am relieved.

    And I know I could have possibly ended up on the streets if it hadn’t been for this job. So I feel for you, I get where you’re coming from.

    I love that you’re writing about your experiences, too. I’ll be checking out your back posts. :)

  4. Jeff Hammond says:

    i first heard about you via a spot on our local tv station about a guy doing a video trip on homeless people. i myself have been homeless, but it was of my own making, i was an addict, methamphetamine was my drug of abuse. i have been clean and sober for going on 11years now, i look back on my homelessness and am thankful i survived.
    your blogs rock! please keep sharing, maybe someone will come out of the woodwork and do something really good for you or someone you know.
    thanks for listening.
    jeff hammond

  5. Hi Jeff!

    Thank you for your very kind comment, and for sharing your story.

    It really bothers me that so many see drug users or those who have made other mistakes that contributed to their homelessness, as somehow less worthy of assistance. While I do not condone drugs, I realize that these are the ones who need the most help, as they have the most challenges from the beginning. It’s so great to hear that you’ve been clean for so long and pulled yourself out of homelessness. I imagine that someday I will look back on all this and laugh. Or cry. Or maybe both ;)

    I am a little bit confused, though… was I mentioned on TV somewhere? If so, I hadn’t heard about it until now.

    Thanks again, good to have you here! If the cause is near and dear to your heart, my favorite sites to recommend are HomelessTales, Stone Soup Station, and SLO Homelessness (all are listed in my sidebar).


  6. stephanie says:

    Hi Bri -

    I’m just a passer-by who came across your blog through another story that was written about your new internship. Congratulations for all your hard work and dedication. It sounds like you’ve opened the door for so many opportunities in your life, and that’s not easy to do. I suppose we’re sometimes afraid of what’s behind door #1, 2 and 3, but it’s faith in something better that keeps us going.
    Bravo! I wish you all the best as you start a new chapter in life.

  7. Congratulations on your internship. You sound like a bright, determined, creative and resourceful person, and I predict that you’ll come out of this very well. I hope you will.

  8. Molly Brown says:

    I found your blog through Mediabistro – congratulations on the Elle internship! I just wanted to say how much I can relate to your story. I grew up in a single parent dysfunctional home. I struggled my way to college and found myself on an employment track similar to yours. I made a great deal of progress over a few years, but due to the chronic illness of a relative whom I helped extensively because I was the only monetarily functional adult in my family, my personal finances were depleted severely. When I was already weakened from that, I got a huge blow when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast where I was living at the time. I ended up relocating to another city and living in a cargo van for six months after losing my job and health insurance when my employer was shut down by the hurricane. Besides a shelter, the van was the only choice I had because I have no functional relatives I could live with. I had no money for an apartment deposit because of the drain from the disaster and the family illness and I had to get a temp job fast in order to earn some. No one at my office, where I later landed a permanent job, has any inkling that the first few months I worked for them I was living in the van I drove to work every day. It wasn’t a completely horrible experience – I have never lived rent-free since I also left home at 18, and not having to pay out hundreds of dollars a month for shelter allowed me to stabilize relatively quickly. I took a different strategy than you – instead of parking in one spot, I moved from one quiet neighborhood to another, never spending more than one night in the same place. I was almost arrested twice when police banged on the side of the van, but thankfully they gave up and went away. I also had a terrifying incident one night when I was in my sleeping bag in the cargo hold and someone tried to break into the van by trying the locks on the rear door. I jumped into the cab and peeled out, never looking back. I baked in the hot summer weather and I knew the situation had to end when fall arrived and I lay shivering all night no matter how many blankets I piled up. Just in time, I was offered a permanent position, and gladly took it. The minute I had the signed offer letter, I found a good residence situation where I still am three years later. While I was living in the van, I would sometimes see people start to figure out my situation. I would usually quickly absent myself because their invariable reaction was to become judgmental, aggressive or frightened. There are a great many myths about homelessness in our culture, but I would wager that the vast majority of homeless people are either from a fragmented family or were hit with a disaster like illness, a job loss or a catastropic event like a hurricane or fire, or some combination of such things like I was. I got through it and so can you. I’m still in the same job, and am grateful that even in this recession it seems to be stable. I’m also making progress towards achieving personal goals that had to be put on hold for years in order to with all of this.

  9. I have never been homeless. I have been loved deeply by both of my parents. I have a great job. Great house. Three dogs. Friends. Oddly though, I find myself somewhat envious of you. The fact that you are able to take all that has been thrown at you in your life and still continue to move forward is awe inspiring. I could only hope to have a grain of your courage and drive. I wish you much luck with your internship at Elle. Somehow, I don’t think you’ll need it.

  10. Jim Cropper says:

    Good Luck, Bri. You sound like you have got what it takes, you just need a break. God Bless and keep a smile on your face and take good care of your pal.

  11. Hello Bri, (hope I got that right).

    You have no idea how many times I thought I might end up homeless over my working life and even now that I have retired what saves me now is my pension and SS, something you can’t quite collect yet. But, you have the fortitude to keep plugging on. Back when I worried about it even though I had some education I decided to keep working by lowering my job expectations by looking for jobs as a clerk, receptionist, Wendys, or ,some other fast food estabilshment. Trouble with that today is those jobs were taken eons ago. Now you have lucked out and really will be working again. And I bet from now on you won’t ever be faced with homelessness again because you will make sure of that. Congrats and kudos to ya.

  12. Attica Peece says:

    Hello, Bri. I just stumled on your story on my AOL.
    I am a literary agent who has repped women & minority screeb & tv writers since 2000. Listed in every industry directory.

    I would like to option your story if possible. We have been championing female writers all these years and fought for better pay and rights for them, as well as minorities; especially during the diversity years of 2001/02-
    We hare huge humanitarians and open doors of new and struggling writers.
    The option is simple: 1 month option to pitch it to certain cable networks…this is it.

    Please, email me directly at

  13. You’re another “head in the clouds” media type. Anything for an angle to get sympathy or pitty. Liberal media types all seem to flock togther thinking the world agrees with them. It’s a good thing most of us read through the liberal slant in so many news stories and reports. The term journalist is used very loosely these days. Good luck to you in your career and remember, when your making big bucks and your government is taking it all in taxes, back to your hard luck days when things were simplier.

  14. Bri, your story is amazing! I’m so happy for you that things seem to be going in the right direction now! I wish for you, and your beautiful dog, that the hard times are behind you for good!

  15. I found your blog through the article about you on aol. You are such a strong and resilient person. I hope your life works out exactly the way you want it too, I think you deserve it!

  16. Hi Bri, your story touched my heart and its good to hear that even when homeless we have hope. I was homeless when i was pregnant with my children. it was a long story but i made it and i got myself out. I wish i could offer you a place right now but im couch hopping myself. i do wish you the best of luck though *hugs*

  17. Bri, I read about your internship. Congratulations! You are truly an inspiration. Your line “You may be homeless, but you do not have to be a bum.” is something I have always said myself. Keep your head up and stand proud for the woman you are. Much success!

  18. Hi Bri:

    I found your blog by surfing the net. You have an amazing story and you a a survivor! You are an incredible woman.

    Is they anyway you could contact a church around where you live to ask for help, e.g., obtaining a permanent job, etc.

    Just my two cents.

    Cheryl :)

  19. Hello Bri:

    You write very well. I find it difficult to believe that you are not a transplanted East-Coaster; specifically, New Yorker. (Is that where your internship is?) In any case, you are witty, and photogenic. Even your dog is unbelievably outstanding. I can definitely see talk shows and at least one book in your future…maybe even a visit with Oprah…!!!!

  20. Hi Bri
    It is so exciting that you received the Elle internship! You sound like you have what it takes to survive in this world!! Keep your blog going. I would like to know how this all works out. I will be praying for you!

  21. I heard about your blog via the twitter love story and then today I found out about the internship. I too have been homeless and I can relate to some of what you have shared. I too thought because I went to college something like being homeless would never happen to me.

  22. ::Shakes Head::

    Only in America.

    “I can be homeless and still clean, nourished, confident, well-dressed, dry in the rain, and warm at night. I can make wise and preventive decisions that will help protect me and keep me safe in tenuous circumstances. I can and will continue to bring in revenue, interview, and locate permanent employment. I can be a tall woman with flaming red hair, a jowly and imposing Neapolitan mastiff, and a 30-foot RV in tow and still manage to remain inconspicuous and under the radar”

  23. Writer In Recovery says:

    Re: Attica Peece above – please read this before you respond to her.

  24. Cincinnatti Godwell says:

    Writer in Recovery: ABSOLUTEWRITE is a web of lies and bitter writers who cannot distinguish between screenwriters and authors.
    Not nice when you don’t know a thing about who you’re referring to.
    Bri. Hang in there. You’ve had your faith all along and you should keep your faith in your people and new opportunities.

  25. I just heard you got an internship w EJean of elle. Good. In future I hope you have better $ management. Why did you rent a house (even if it was a small cottage), that is a huge waste of $. Your mastiff dog also is but you’ve made it clear you wont give it up. Do you drink expensive $5 starbucks drinks? You need better $ management.

    As it is August, the insurance/registration your Dad left you ran out. So what are you doing?

    PS: Add that “email me with new comments” button that blogs have.
    Good luck.

  26. Your line about not becoming a casualty or stereotype is really interesting/important to me. The thing people don’t think about when they’re not actually faced with a really dire situation is that you can’t just give up on yourself. You don’t have any choice but to keep trying. You still have to be you for the rest of your life. Other people can give up on you and try to pretend you never existed, but you keep on living and can’t just write yourself off as some kind of anecdote.

  27. I hope you have a great 1st day in your new internship, I also hope you will be able to gain a address soon, nobody deserves to be without shelter, and you are right, it can happen to anybody at any time.

  28. I found your story on our local news website here in Arizona. You are an inspiration to everyone. You have had bad things happen, yet you persevere. Good for you! I wish you the best of luck. I know you will go far. Good luck with your internship. You will be great!

  29. Came across your blog after the article about your Elle internship popped up on my email homepage. I just wanted to say that I find your courage and spirit to be remarkable and inspiring. I am very fortunate to have never known any of the hardships that you have faced and have never thought of homelessness extending to people like you and me. It is eye opening, to say the least. But it is also a testament to the strength that we all have inside of ourselves, but which many of us, fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, never have to access. Best of luck to you with your internship! I look forward to reading about your success.

  30. Bri, you are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with the world!

    When anyone looks at your situation, their attitude should be, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

    I promise that I won’t be so pompous and assuming as to imagine that this is so – but maybe you went through this difficult experience in order to inspire and help others?

    You have already made a huge difference in the lives of many, and I am so happy to hear about your good news. Traveling mercies on the journey…

  31. Hi, I found your site through a Yahoo! news article, about you ( I didn’t know this kind of blog existed. Your stories remind me of me and my children when their father abandoned us. We stayed in the streets and while I teach English to Koreans, my children hide from one of the unoccupied rooms until I’m done and off to lunch and we eat in that isolated room, when work is done, we go by the fire exit and then sleep on the benches near the building. When I tell people about my experience, they don’t believe me and think that I’m just a “trying hard” because of the fact that I go to the office with nice clothes and of course I don’t show anyone what we eat (of embarrassment!). Well, we didn’t stay long in the streets, there were nice people who helped us too. Blogs like this is a good means of encouragement to others.

  32. Bri..

    I found your blog via a story our local paper did ( I have been reading it forever… I couldnt imagine all you’ve gone through although I too was abused (mentally, physically, sexually and everyother way) by step dad and friends… I applaud you for not allowing yourself to panic and keep your head straight and getting a plan of action. You are a very articulate woman and I hope in the end all works out for you. Good Luck at Elle!!!

    Love to you my dear…

  33. Dear Bri,

    You are an unbelievably strong, intelligent and articulate woman, and I have no doubt that your persistence will bring you the glowing success, home and happiness that you so clearly deserve.

    I came across your blog after seeing something on the internet, and am both humbled and impressed by what i have read. I wish you all the accomplishment, success, health and happiness that you deserve, and know that your blog will be an inspiration for so many, whether or not they already have a home. For that, I thank you.
    All the best with your internship, and for the bright future that I am sure holds great surprises for you.

  34. Hey Bri,

    I saw your story on CNN and really liked your funny quirky attitude and outlook on life. I am in need of an assistant that can assist me with administrative duties as well as social networking for our company. We are a start up company and will be launching in October 2009. P/T salary starts at $15 per hour + commission (sorry I wish it was more but can be more after 60 days) and you can work off-site a couple of days a week. Please call me know if you’re interested (no pressure)and l give you more details about our company.

    All the Best,

    Renee Envall
    VP, Brand Marketing
    The Peek-A-Boo Boutique, An Anjen Company
    14252 Culver Drive
    Suite #A298
    Irvine, CA 92604
    T +01 949 707 3800
    M +01 562 900 6600
    F +01 949 559 5564

  35. I can relate with you, i came to this country legally to study, finished my masters in engineering with honors and was left in the dark after graduation without a job or job opportunites as companies kept shying away from offering me a sponsor visa.Long story short, lost apartment, used to hand wash my clothes at the university gym, ate from the dumpster behind burger king, picked up change dropped by customers (drive thru’s) from burger king, taco bell, KFC and Mc Donalds.Never lost faith and hung on, kept trying and finally made it.Looking back at the days, i m not sad or ashamed of them becoz i believe those days are what made me.all the best

  36. As a blogger myself, and also a woman, I felt compelled to click on your story’s headline when it came across my cell phone’s browser via a CNN news feed. Wow.

    You seem to be an amazing young woman with a good head on her shoulders and a wonderful, upbeat attitude for all you’ve been through in life (I read your “About Me” page). I like your down-to-earth style and your determination to beat the odds. You are an inspiration to me, and you are an inspiration to other women, I am sure.

    I wish you the very best and feel certain that your positive attitude will take you far in life! You go, girl! :)

  37. Good Evening Brianna,

    I read about your story from:

    I am very happy to hear that you got that internship, congratz I truly hope all goes well for you =). If you ever need any assistance with your professional resume, please don’t hestiate to ask. I was a Resume Specialist for the Employment Security Department in WA. I am always here to lend a helping hand.

    Take care and continue to push forward.

    David Kan

  38. I had to write because I think you are truly an inspiration. I hear people complain all day long, I even do it myself. I see people’s status updates on Facebook that complain, complain, complain even when they have a warm home and a loving family, beach houses, pets, great kids etc…They have all the things that we think would equate to a great life but they are not happy. I don’t know if you are happy or not Bri but I know one thing, you will find happiness from the root that matters and that is yourself, not things. Your struggles will pay off and you will so appreciate your warm home someday when you have it which I hope is soon. Keep your chin up girl and your feet forward!!

  39. “I am not mentally ill.”
    and so what if you were… we’d still love you!

  40. Hi – I just found your blog via CNN and had to join in on congratulating you for your persistence and strength. You are certainly an inspiration for so many, homeless or not. Best of luck!

  41. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I like that you recognize how vulnerable and yet capable women can be.

  42. I’m angered and saddened that you have had to deal with much as you’ve had to. Have you ever thought of leaving CA entirely and looking for work in another state? It appears that just like Americans 100 or 200 years ago moved all over the country looking for work, so too might people migrate once again in this age.

  43. Congratulations Bri, you’re an inspiration!

  44. I am so impressed and inspired by your story, and I think you have had your experiences in order to use them for a greater good. I spend a lot of time feeling financially desperate-but at least I have a roof over my head. I am aware that that could change in a heartbeat, though. If you are still living in your trailer in the winter consider coming to Phoenix-at least it’s warm here. (Oh and Dean, above (8/26) needs to learn to spell…).

  45. I love reading your story – you are such a courageous human being. But one point I want to make is this: having a trailer to live in does not make you homeless. You have a trailer. I have a shopping cart and a bush to sleep under.

  46. Hi Bri,

    I just started reading your story and want to offer my congratulations and support of your work. I think blogging is the wave of the future, having also seen Julie and Julia, of which I think the story is not of the love of Julia Child, but of what the blog did for Julie. I just want to say that I don’t believe that living in a trailer is homelessness. I live in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the wealthiest counties in the US that has a large homeless population. The reason I have learned firsthand about it is from my boyfriend of 2 and 1/2 years who has been homeless, alcoholic and in and out of jails for mostly DIPs for most of his adult life and he’s 47. If he had a trailer to live in, he would be in heaven. I’m glad that you didn’t have to live in the woods or behind buildings but he has, granted most of it from his own bad choices. I look forward to reading your blog and all the best to you and the doggy. Sincerely, Sandy

  47. Thank you for your passionate Blog posting. The level of clarity and insight that you demonstrate in each one of your posts is amazing.

    In my work as a physician and research/policy advocate, I spend an enormous amount of time reading about homelessness from a very academic and didactic perspective. Your insights and gleanings represent an important “balancing” element for my work – as your writing brings a heartfelt “story” to plight of people experiencing homelessness.

    Thank you for your honesty and commitment to bringing greater understanding to the needs of people living in homelessness.

  48. you are proud to manage your situation, good, but i am not agree for the term bum, that you use because means discrimination, for peole who work hard, in the street probably, but as an inmigrant don’t have the papers o facilities that borns here have it, so if you don’t have unemployment, and lost a secure job, but for lack of papers in actual times can’t get only mabe a minimum wage job, u are discriminated on street, the money u earn is for the rent, because always live in your house, but the food is expensive, so if you go to a soup kitchen, that is supoused for people in need or low income, you are stigmatized for the same people who serve the food, so they are not christian, only do this p/t job for their resume. In short, you always live in your house, get a job after a while, only get food sometimes, because u are alone in this country with relatives far away, no wife. I feel the racism, discrimination, hatred from people who never seen before, and guess you are from the minorities. I am secure of me, but stigmatization from people comes from ignorance, and institutional racism. GOD BLESS YOU.

  49. Hi Jose,

    I have often noted in my writings and in my interviews that the term “bum” applied to ANY homeless individual is a slur. “You do not have to be a bum” refers to “you do not have to accept this slur applied to you”.

    I am a strong believer that the term “bum” should NEVER be applied to a homeless individual.

    Thank you for writing!


  50. HI!

    im from sweden and i just read your first text. its a really good story (sad though offcourse) but you should consider writing a book. I bet that someone would make a movie out of it too. this blog is such a wake up call. A lot of people take everything for granted and you just described how we can’t do that. It’s a shitty thing what happened to you and im very happy for you that you seem to be back on your feet again. obviously i haven’t read the whole blog, just this piece, but you give me alot of inspiration and i just wanted you to know that.

  51. Hi Bintou,

    You’re very sweet, thank you for your kind words. I actually did sign a book deal recently. I believe it’s set to be published sometime next year.

    Thank you again! :)


  52. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I thought I might be all alone in this mess. I was a manager at a respected restaurant in SF for 3 years. When on a Thursday last January, I went to work in uniform, and nobody was there. No check. No “Thanks for all your hard work”. I’ve been struggling on unemployment for a year now. Slowly watching my life disappear. I lived in a 2 bedroom loft in SOMA a year ago. Then shared a studio with a roommate. Then had to put all my stuff into storage, and started jumping from hotel to hotel, couch hopping during the gaps. So, I came home to visit my bipolar Mom for Christmas and got stuck here because EDD, or the Post Office lost my continued claim form, again… I’m about to go bananas. My storage unit with all my worldly belonging is now 2 months behind and probably on the auction block. My phone got shut off 2 days ago. Two days before I left SF, I was denied a room at a hotel after being closely examined and questioned by the owner/manager, even though I had the cash to pay. The day my flight left, I missed the plane, and had my mother pay for a hotel room online. When I got there, I didn’t have the money for the incidental fee, so they wouldn’t give me a room, nor would they refund the money. Oh and referred to me to another guest as being “overextened”, and “poverty level”. That’s when I started looking at myself as a “Bum”, but you’ve changed that for me. You gave us a voice. Thank you so much.

  53. Hola Christine,

    Wow your story is so inspiring to me. While I have never been homeless, I have been living in temporary housing through the help of friends and family. I live in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world. I have parents who care about me but they do not have enough money to help support me while I pursue a career in fashion in New York. I once considered it tough to get rid of most of my belongings but thanks to your testimony, I am ready to begin that step. Graduating from high school, I never thought that this would happen to me. However, thanks to friends, family and now your encouraging story I am ready to make the necessary sacrifices and deal with my present situation. Hope all works out the best for you mama. You go girl!

  54. Stephanie says:

    Dear Bri,
    I read about your blog on yahoo and I just had to check it out. I too am having financial problems and want to write about it. You have given me a good idea. Writing helps me to know I am not alone and that other people are in similar dire straights. Your blog has helped me and I thank you for that. From a complete stranger,


  55. What a story.

    I wish you good luck with everything.

    I hope they make this a movie. That should get you your house.

    Please don’t let them have Lindsay Lohan play you.


  56. I lived in my car for the last six months of 2007. It is not fun, but it helped me finish school since I was able to use the money I earned at my job to make the monthly payments for my classes. Without switching to car living, I would have had to drop out of school six months away from earning my bachelor’s degree.

  57. AndiLynn says:

    You’re amazing for all that you’ve shared!

  58. Tallat Ayeshah says:

    Dearest sister Brianna Karp……After reading your blog…..I cried bitterly…and prayed to ALLAH ALMIGHTY fervently to help and guide you always. May HE THE MOST MERCIFUL bless you with happiness, contentment ,health and prosperity…..All my prayers shall always be with you… being a muslim Sunni/Pakistani…..I pray regularly five times a day….and try my level best everyone who is homeless/ and oppressed.
    pleasedo send me an email..and please do accept me as your sister/friend. With all my LOVE and prayers..for you my beloved sister your’s affectionately, Tallat Ayeshah

  59. Tallat Ayeshah says:

    Dearest sister Brianna Karp……After reading your blog…..I cried bitterly…and prayed to ALLAH ALMIGHTY fervently to help and guide you always. May HE THE MOST MERCIFUL bless you with happiness, contentment ,health and prosperity…..All my prayers shall always be with you… being a muslim Sunni/Pakistani…..I pray regularly five times a day….and try my level best to help everyone who is homeless/ and oppressed.
    pleasedo send me an email..and please do accept me as your sister/friend. With all my LOVE and prayers..for you my beloved sister your’s affectionately, Tallat Ayeshah

  60. Hello Bri,

    I came across your blog and was inspired by your resilience. I’m married to an engineer; we have three children and were lucky he found work after the company he worked for for 10 years closed their Florida branch and laid off 300 plus employees. although we are not homeless the possibility creeps up more often these days. His current job has been going through a pattern that is concerning us. For sometime now something is going on with the company we can’t pin point. He recently received a letter informing him as of April 1st the company had canceled all employee insurance (but was still taking it out of their pay check.) and he was sent a letter last night informing him that the company credit card was declined for a training he had just returned from. We are not sure weather its accounting error or some more impending situation they are not sharing. Needless to say today he will share his concern with his superior and try to get some answers.

  61. Hi Brianna,
    I’m so inspired by your resilience, courage, boldness, and your ability to take things in stride. I know you will do well in your new endeavors. Many more blessings to you girl!


  62. Brenda Spann says:

    Hi Bri,
    My is Bree also. How cool. My life’s history mirrors yours somewhat. Let me tell you my story.

    I was raised on a family farm. Only about three or four years I lived in the town type of living. I worked as a cocktail waitress or road construction as the person who sets up the wooden or steel frames for concrete pillars or waterway underneath the roads that you drive over. I did that for two years.

    I later was forced to move back in with my parents. My lifestyle drinking and partying did not agree with their lifestyle so shit hit fan and I had to curb my drinking. I later with to an old friend for a job as a waitress at hit bar. That upset my father so much. He was disappointed at me and said I was not going to at a bar while living at their farm so I did not do this job and remained jobless for about one month. He decided to hire me on the farm. He taught me how to drive a tractor, irrigate, and changed the oil on tractor. Other things too. I worked on the farm for fifteen years. One the fourteenth year I started drinking heavy and became jail-bait by the cops. They were always looking for ways to throw me in jail but I did have alcohol underneath me for DWI so they threw me in for either my left or right blinker did not work on the car. Almost a year later, some guy with the same pickup broke in someone home so the cops bee-lined my way as I drove and parked in a cafe’s parkway after going to the bar. I was borderline drunk and was charged with a DWI. I was placed on probation for two years.

    Now, the scary thing is the revoke queen of the county. She was lesbian and had it out for all men and some women. The funny part was I was arrested for two public intoxicatioin while on probation and lost my deferred judication but did go the jail to spend the rest of time of probation, thank God. I later was caught in the bar drinking by six probation officer including mine. I had only three days to go in my probation to go. They did not file on mine. They could have but decided to let me go. I talked to a deputy sheriff, told my story while sat with a friend of mine who bailed me out of jail five times. She worked for a bondsman. The deputy sheriff laughed for so hard and told me my guardian angels were working overtime for me that night.

    Since I was drinking so much, my relationship with parents was stressed. Besides drinking, I was whoring around tremendously. In 1996, my father died and my brother took over the farm. My relationship with mother and brother went from bad to worstest ever. She kicked me out the house because we were fighting like cats and dogs. She later placed me in a trailer house because my brother moved in with her. I lived there for about 8 months and she kicked me again because one of the farmhand needed a place to live because we lost one of the place we farmed. She placed me in fifth-wheel travel with electicity or heat in the dead of winter. Yet, I live and slept in.

    My mother in the mean time took my belongings out the trailer house by hiring some mexicans to do it and she placed my stuff in the front yard to be destroyed by the weather. I was in Lubbock at that time. My mother and I were not talking at that time. One time, on her birthday and Mother’s Day, she was born on Mother’s day, she came over the trailer and gave me back the Mother’s day and birthday card which were very beautifull cards. She wanted no part of me. She later kicked out of the travel trailer because I spent more time there than at the farm. Now, I going to tell what became later.

    While I lived in the trailer I decided to go to school at this business college. I technolly I did not qualify for any loans or grants because I made too on the farm a year earlier. Here I am homeless and with no job, and no education for a better job. I got this whim to cheat on my tax return so I only turned one-half of my earning and received a return of $700.00. Like an idiot, I cashed it. I went to this business collge for fifteen months and finally graduated with a certification of Computerized Office Specialist.

    The friends at this place I stayed occasionally talked me in going to Texas Tech University three months later. Of course, I had inkling what I would major in but I went anyway. I started liking.

    Meanwhile, I was going to college and my mother were not on speaking terms yet. My roommate, at the time, did not like my mother because my mother would call and gripe me out over trival things. So, my friends there would just tell her I was not there. Because of this, I almost lost my younger brother. He had a motorcycle accident, he hit a stopped pickup when he was going home to pick up his nine-year old son. My brother brakes failed when he going sixty miles per hour. He went under the vehicle that scalped him alive and tore him up. He died three times before they stablized him. My mother did not how to get hold of me. She decided to come to Lubbock to check on me. We went to Amarillo to be with my brother who did not know me after the accident. She stills blames my roommate for this incident. She was just protecting from my mother. My mother is either bipolar-manic depressive or just a control-freak who believes she needs to verballly beat the shit of you to be happy. She saids I am bipolar because she can never except blame on anything. I am always at blame. Just ask her.

    My older brother had an accident Birmingham, Alabama. She picked me and we drove there. We spent a week there either driving or staying in motels. My cat died while we were gone. I still miss that darn cat. Anyway, back to brother. He totaled 21 cars, pickups, and boats (brand new, just off the lot), 11 people were to hospital. This guy who started the whole thing was driving and fell asleep while driving, crossed a medium, then crashed on the opposite side of highway. He was over-turned. There was 21 people who stopped and gawking. Well, one warned my brother of accident up ahead. (I bet they wished they did now). He just topped to hill full speed. You know it takes the lenght of two football fields to stop. That was longer than the line of all the vehicles stopped and gawking. Luckily, my brother used all these vehicles while he jack-knifed the rig sliding down the while his cab was trying to flip under his trailer. It was just playing bowling and all the cars served as bowling pins. One guy lost both of legs ( the guy that started the whole before), other went on the hospital and released. It costed his trucking company at that time over five millions dollars in damages and my brother lost his job.

    After this was said and done. We went home and my brother like to killed us because he fell asleep underneath the wheel because he is the type that if he has to have a women drive him anywhere it would casterate him. Everything returned to normal after everyone returned to place of residence, fighting over trival things, fighting like cats and dogs, and I was to blame, not my mother she is perfect.

    At this time, I was still grieving my father death. My father, I loved, hated him, despise him, respected him, trusted him as a means of income, did not trust fully because he was always firing me for something the damn mexicans did on the farm. He fired me when one of damn mexican blew an ingine out of a tractor because the damn mexican forgot to pull oil in the ingine. Here is something you need to know. My father was a homosexual or bisexual. He hated women. He beat the hell out of my mother for years and us kids when felt the notion. He was a perfectionist. HIs way or the highway. My mother refused to leave him because she knew she would have monetary security always. My father finally became a millionaire one year after grew maize instead of cotton but that did not change his personality. Later, my mother became my problem

    My mother became a control-freak she fianced the farming operations because my brother’s credit suck. This where you might need to go to the first of this letter to know what I went through.

    I am going to tell this where she kicked me out of house, fired me off the farm because I was liability because I was on probation or I did not do what she said to do and say “Yes, master”. If you have not figured out yet, I have problems with authoritative figure. They will control me ever again.

    While I living in Lubbock, my mother woiuld come and stay with me hoping to regain a mother-daughter relationship but the damage was deep. I could not forgive her, did not trust her.

    Soon after this my landlord put my rental house up for sale because McDougal Realtors decided to cleanup the neighborhood. He decided to displaced everyone living there so he could put up apartments, new homes, and walking malls. My house was not originally in this but later expanded to house. I later started to have fiancial problems. The city cut off my water, but not electricity. However, the city left my water on at a dribble so I just continued on. Later they cut the utilities all together. No water, no electricity, and no heat in the winter. I would put a trash bag in the comode to catch all the piiss and shit, then later I would after it was full, I would carry it out the dumpsters at night.

    One time, My mother was visiting me after she decided to install a phone in the home. The guy came to install the phone lines. moments later, we found him climbing my patio fence which was eigth feet in one leap and never came back. I did know whether it was the smelll of my bathroom or my ghost appeared and scared him out of house, scaling my eight-foot fence. We are still scratching our heads over that one.

    Well, time has come to move again because he sold the house. Here I working and going to Tech and cannot afford anything over four hundreds a month so I placed all my stuff in a storage place and lived out of my car. I have a 78′ Buick LeSavre, beautiful, roomy, and a place to put everything in the trunk and out of sight if needed. I lived out of car for three years. No insurance, not inspection sticker, or license tag sticker. I would just travel at night so the cops could make it out. I remind you, I am working part-time and full-time student still. You would believe how many students live out of cars until they find a place to live. Shit happens to the best of us, I was told. But no me about the crack dealers try to move in your car or try to sell but that is another story.

    The city finally came through from the programs I applied for. I was placed in one bedroom efficiency. I lived there for three years then I financial problems again because I was fired from job at the college. I moved from there, place what I could in storage bin. I had to move back in with my mother. I was trying to get disability at that time and kept getting rejected. And guess what, I was forced to move back in with mother.

    I was having health problems. I developed diabetes, blood pressure problems, and PAD (periferal artery disease). After the doctor took a leap of faith and diagnosed me with this. One month later, they tried to insert a stint but my arteries were too cloggged, so the doctors, one week later, gave me bypass surgery then one month later I had to have arterial surgery because my arteries were 98% clogged. I went in coma after the surgery. Now, this just hearsay from me because I was the one in a coma. My mother annointed me holy water from the river in France but she did not know how to do it correctly. She found someone to do it correctly and very beautifully my mother said. Now, remember I told you I was high-strung. My mother told me I started throwing my legs and my arms everywhere. The nurses had to restrain me by tying my legs and arms to the bed. Now, remember I am in the middle of coma. I start screaming at whoever was there, I think my mother was there. I was screaming to get my journal I have to write some peoples names down. I was doing the family tree of the Spannes. The year was the late 1700′s, my husband and his family was slave traders in the Barbados. I never found my journal. I clinically died twice. My sister-in-law bought me a stuff dog. They placed it beside me. I started cuddling it. My sister would tease me by taking it away. My blood pressure would drop to the point the doctors and nurses came with the crash cart. Then she would do it again and again. The doctors tried to take while they were checking me out. My blood pressure drop again. I heard they shooked their heads in disbelief, They could not understand why I needed that stuffed dog around at all times. Only if my dog, Booboo, I had known I had an affair with a stuffed dog. She would feel so jilted. It has been one week so far and I am still in the coma. Another week passed, I am still in the coma. The doctors pulled the respiratory out of throat, place one of those nasal oxygen mask on. The doctors are starting prep me for organ donations. My mother has worse than she cried for my brother. She practically lived at that hospital while I there. I started another afterdeath experience. I woke up, it was dark, dirty, and wet. I was placed in a casket and buried alive. This is not good. I start digging and scratching and finally the side came loose and fell open. It was dark and muddy and I had to climb up an enbankment. I started to climbing clawing and scratching my way to the top. A ways in the darkness I saw some red lights. I saw it trading post. There was an Indian standing in front on left part of trading post. He did not speak with mouth but yet words I heard him say. He took his hand that some white powder dust said some kind of Indian prayer taking the powder to the air. The air outside the trading post sparkled and I smiled. He told me he was a great chief of the Corvona Indians. He told me to take some trinkets off this table of here and give them to a little boy sitting on floor to the left of me. He was not there before. I did it and I received two coins as he said would. I did it twice to make sure. He told me to go over to this wall hanging. It was of a woman holding a basket of four guna beans, one red, one blue, one tan, one green. She told me to pick one of the guna beans, so I picked the red one. The basket she was holding started to spin like a roulette wheel. It stopped one red. I won. She said I won life and then the red guna bean dissolve and ran upward like a thermometer. The chief gave me five stones with symbols on them, told me to wait for the full moon to appear. I seemed to me it only took a few minutes for to appear. Time moves so slow there. At this time, I totally forgot if I dirty or muddy from that climb from the casket. I was led to the rear of trading post where there was a small stable where made from tree limbs and tied together with strips of leather. I saw other things I could not smell anything. I knelt down to the shovel being held by that little boy I saw before, placed the stones in the correct order, said the prayer, took the red powder I received from the woman held on the wall threw it up in the air and it just disappeared. The chief told me it would give the personal strength to stand up on own for the next day. I got up and there was my father. He said, “Sissy?”. That was my family nickname for me. I went to him and he gave me biggest hug. He then took me for a walk where I met my grandfather again. I met all great grandfather and great grand mothers. Something was strange, it was very bright white light everywhere and it looked as if I was in a bed looking to foot of bed while my father introduced me to them. I looked to my left of leftside of the bed and saw this guy standing far away watching but not joining. My father and I start to leave this place. We returned to the trading post to a party going on. Dancing and drinking, yelling and singing. I danced with my father and others. They celebrating for fact I received life from Sister Angelina. After the party was over, I found out I was married to someone at the party shortly after I met. My mother stepped in quickly getting me a quicky divorce. I woke up from the coma after 17 or 18 days. Yelled out but it sounded like squeak rather than a yell. The rest is history.

    We were doing fine there for a while until my brother would come in from being on the road. He is a trucker again. She would lite into me at any given time because I was not as perfect as he was or giving her money. There is difference between my brother and me. He is quiet and don’t get a shit, just except everything as it comes calmly. I, on the hand, am high-strung, easily to make mad and start screaming.

    In February of this year, he has to go in the hospital for cellulitus, gout, and MRSA. He was placed one a nine-month medical leave. He almost lost his left leg but he kept it. He and mother watch the same shows, laugh at the same shows, talk about the things without yells. However, I introduced him to facebook. Now, he and mother are yelling at each other. I have created a monster my mother says.

    It has been three months since Indiana and my brother. I receive my disability checks now and now I pay one-half of bills in the house. My mother told me I will never move from this home again but what my mouth. My psychologist wants me to move out but I am too scared for that bold move. I hope you read this and not delete it. Thanks for lending a ear.

  63. Hi Brianna, I found your blog via yahoo. Very inspiring write up. In your post you’ve mentioned that you’ve tried looking for jobs as far as San Diego or Los Angeles counties. Have you tried overseas, such as my country of Indonesia with our economy growing fast despite the world recession. You can apply for jobs via or or google around “Jobs in Indonesia” or “Jobs in Jakarta” (capital city)”. I’m sure there’s openings and interviews can be done online. Give it a shot. Looking forward for your book. Take care and have a good one. Good luck with things

  64. What a journey you have had! I thank you for sharing your story. *hugs*

  65. As an Indian immigrant in US, I used to wonder how the average American seems to live large surviving on biweekly paychecks with no reserve set aside for hard times. That seemed fine during good times and 6 decades of plentiful jobs, not any more. I guess we in US these days need to adopt a frugal culture of setting aside say 20% of a paycheck for hard times… Folks and yes women(!) in India buy a lot of gold every year to protect themselves from financial hardships as they had done for centuries, besides savings in the bank. I guess some good habits need to be encouraged.

    We in US now need to better prepare ourselves for harsh times, these are choices we make for ourselves for the rest of our lives. What if we owned our homes free and clear? What if we owned everything we need, without any loans? How do we prepare ourselves for times when we cannot work for a few years? Hard questions, few answers. Maybe the answer is some sort of community living and frugal lifestyles….

    Great blog, keep it up!

  66. Hi Bri,

    Very moving! You should connect with our organization.

  67. Im really touched by your story and feel alittle inspired to keep going in life and not give up. If you ever need anything just let a stranger know. I wish everybody was more like you.

  68. A homeless bum says:

    Your bio is all generalities …. where are the facts…names, dates….

    • Hi there,

      When I began this blog, I was anonymous, for both safety and family reasons. For that reason, I kept as vague as possible.

      My name has since been made public and I have gone into more detail as to my past. Interested readers will be able to learn much more about it in my book next year.

      Thanks for commenting :) Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help out; seeing as you’re homeless.


  69. bondgirl says:

    Hi Brianna,

    Great Blog and what a story! I would be homeless if it weren’t for my kind friend that I am currently living with. I left my company in Arizona back in June 2008 and moved back to Minnesota because I didn’t have anyone to live with in Arizona. There is no room for me at my parents house here because my sister and her husband and their two kids live there. The only available place was with my friend T. He has been amazing and I will always be grateful.

    I can’t wait to read your book! Keep on blogging!


  70. tree island says:

    Hi Bri;
    I have followed your webiste for over a year, sporadically, as life, time and net access allows. Are you finally homed? I have been in your situation, though I am a senior citizens and currently have serious health issues. Scary and society’s empathy seems to diminish by the day. The stereotypes some wish to hold are firghtening. I am missing most of my teeth, due to other health issues. Sad that people look at me amd asume I am a meth addict and diserve any misfortune that comes my way. Have never been an alcoholic or a drug addict, but did put thousands of dollar into dental care,. Unfortunately, time when I needed care and did not have money made the problem worse. Along with a committment to homing, I hope we get single payer health insurance, I hope this nightmare for many ends with light on the horizon. thanks for you website and blog.

  71. I am “homeless,” staying at the local church …
    Indeed, the church is my home now.
    How old r u?
    Just curious…

  72. CMHorselady says:

    I was homeless in 1980 following a divorce. I lived in a tent on a vacant piece of land I owned. I had no electric and I hand pumped my water for a bath. I did have a job and no one knew I lived in a tent. I saved a lot of money and built a small cottage which was nice to have heat and a dry place in the rain.Jump forward to 2003 and I lived in a bigger house on a larger peice of land. My house burned down and again I was homeless. I lived in a trailer and loved having simplicity again. I respect anyone who has the strength to keep warm, fed, washed and survive the ups and downs of homeless life. I am ready to sell the farm and move again into a small travel trailer to go somewhere warmer and live a simpler life. I will not miss the expenses of keeping a house and the taxes of owning land. I will not miss the expenses of electric, cable and Telephone wires that keep me all inside on nice days instead of enjoying the free outdoors adventures. I will take that big step and go with a simpler live on the road once I get enough courage to do it again.

  73. Aw, this was a extremely good post. In principle I’d like to jot down like this too – taking time and real effort to make an excellent article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never appear to get something executed

  74. Raul Sandoval says:

    Hi Brianna,
    Your story is inspiring and yet a sad reality of what is happening to California and the rest of the country right now. Although there are many challenges that you, as well as many of us are facing right now, always remember that there is a light at the end of this tunnel, that no storm, however heavy it may be, will last forever, and that there will always be a better future to come. Remember too, that although there may be people who have never believed in your true potential, always believe in yourself, and find a way to make all your dreams a reality. Take advantage of student loans and return to school to get a Masters, learn to fly, or learn a new skill. Although you might have a bit of a challenge in getting loans the traditional way due to your economic situation, federal students are virtually guaranteed to you. If I can ever be of help in any way,or be there for moral support, definitely let me know. I currently live in the So.Cal area. Good luck in these tough times, and keep going forward, no matter what happens or whatever challenge comes your way!

  75. You are in my prayers! I know you don’t know me but if you’re ever in Kansas City, you can stay with me. I’m not in the same boat I just lost my car, but I do know what If feels like to grow up determined to get out of poverty; and I’m still working towards that goal. I know that education is my key. I truly believe that you will achieve a greater success than you’ve ever dreamed. I know you can do it,

  76. Clayton says:

    Hi ya’s Bri, I ran across you on yahoo news. Thats the sad thing about the world today we are so bothered with trivial things in life that we don’t focus on the important things. I’ve had friends that have been homeless at different points in their lives. The thing that makes me sad is with the way the world is now a days, you don’t know if it’s safe to help someone that appears to need help. I should count myself lucky I’m 33 going through a divorce, and was able to move back in with my parents. I tell people all the time no matter how bad you think you have it, someone out there has it worse. Another thing that bothers me is a lot more people in this world has been abused then most people will ever know. To others they think it’s a game or something or just some story to get attention, but it truely is a sad thing that happens a lot and for the most part unfortunately goes unchecked. I’m not a big reader but I think I will buy your book.

  77. hello i was first this time homeless starting from orange county too.. now in dc thanks

  78. Hi! I read your artical on yahoo. I have to say rhat your story sounds a lot like mine. But, I know for a fact that no child of 10 can get a job in America other than babysitting for friends or family wothout someone getting into trouble with the law. I have a mentally ill parent, and one parent died from cancer. But, I believe that most of this is for publicity. I was homeless for a while. I had three young kids and My husband was working. Still, we were adrift. So, I know just how hard it can be. I also know that life is hard and unforgiving. I believe that you will get what you truly deserve in the end. If you are a fraud, you will be found out. Either way truth will prevail.

    • Brianna says:

      Hello, other “B”.

      My first job was at age 10 at a salon and both of the hairdressers who worked there remained friends with me (one still cuts my hair now, 15 years later.) My publisher contacted them during their fact checking to verify my statements in the book. And age 12, as I state in the book, is when it is legal to get a minor a work permit in my district (easy to verify on the California Department of Labor website). So what you “know for a fact” is incorrect. My publishers have been quite thorough in their fact-checking, as a good publisher should be.

      I’m sorry you had a difficult life. I’ve met so many whose stories are similar to yours. But this is not and never was a publicity stunt (indeed, if you read back on my blog, you’ll see that I remained anonymous for a long time by choice). You seem to have your mind made up in advance, however. I don’t believe words like “fraud” are to be thrown around lightly.

      ~Brianna Karp

  79. Suzanne says:

    Came across yahoo news article about you a few days ago. Caught my interest as I (&my son) are living in our car-have been for a while. I unlike you have NOT been able to get temp work. I have “strikes” against me,…as in bad credit report, my age, that I have not been employed in the past three years, and have something(from 10 yrs ago) that will appear on background check. Even employment agencies will not help someone who does not have a “clear” background check. My last job was self employment so I am not able to have unemployment benefits money. Until March of this year I was receiving child support payments. Now I have nothing! Things could not be worse, than they are right now. I do NOT have a laptop computer, can only use public use computers at library. Which is closing now, so have to sign off of computer.

  80. Suzanne says:

    Ran out of time before when typing previous comment–was not able to mention bout car in need of an alternator-it dies overnight (every night ) when not in use. So drove to Wal Mart lot at 1:30am this morning, by 6am : no battery power. Normally have been just throwing up the hood and dangling jumper cables, and waiting for someone to give a jump start.(Car then has to be driven a bit every 3 hrs, or will die.) BUT…problem now is – - – am t*o*t*a*l*l*y out of gas-and churches in this area have stopped helping with car gas! So…even getting a jump start is of no use…as I don’t have gas in the car to drive anywhere! Expect Wal Mart will call police & tow truck tonight–as the wal marts here in Illinois do NOT allow ‘overnight’ parking in their lots!!!

    Now maybe people can understand why I (in previous comment) made the statement: “Things could not be worse than they are right now.”

    Great, “computer time” is ‘over’ in 3 minutes ! (Make that 2 minutes, wow goes quick!)

    Need to “post” this quick, before time runs out.


  81. ***Bri: Saw your this posted on your ‘home’ page***: “But what about the 40, 50, and 60 year olds who thought they had it made, who have worked hard their entire lives and are now finding themselves without jobs, income, or homes? What about those who should be spending their golden retirement years gardening or playing racquetball or sleeping in after a good 40 years or so of hard work? Haven’t they earned the right to be cared for instead of spending those golden years living out of a car? They’re at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work, despite having a good deal of accrued experience over us young’uns.”

    ***Boy the part of this post that mentions bout how hard it is for 50-60 yr olds to get hired, is a gazillion percent ‘bang on’ !!!!!***

    But also add: a bad credit report, a non-clear background ck(from 10 yrs ago), & being unemployed for more than 2 yrs–and you have the ‘recipe’ for ‘almost permanent’ job hiring refusal.

    The non-homeless just have no idea–as to, how speedily one can land from ‘full time employment and living in a residence’ to ‘jobless and living in one’s car’…AND the extremely arduous (taking years) uphill climb back to ‘full time work & place to live’ ! ! !((They (non-homeless) have no understanding that you cannot just: “quickly & easily step back into the ‘full time job & permanent residence’ life !))————–>
    Even (miraculously) attaining full time work… does not alot one the luxury of, at the same time moving in someplace. As one still has to ‘reside’ in their car while trying to save up the (‘to be able to move in’) required ‘sec dep’ & ’1st mos rent’.

  82. Suzanne says:

    Nice how Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sends free laptops to poor in Africa that cannot afford to buy computers.


    Why not make laptops available to the ‘no computer’ – “new homeless” here in the U.S. as well???

    Making it possible for them to: hunt for jobs, send out resume’s, etc from ‘free wifi spots’ (Starbucks, Panera, McDonald’s, etc.).

    ***Instead of only being able to use computers at a library(limited by hours library open and…”time allowed on computer” limitation by library.***

    Just wonderin…….

  83. Kirsten says:

    I just read your book Brianne. I know the insanity of the JW community. Glad you got away from that. The abuse you experienced at your own mother’s hand is so shocking and heartless. When I was reading about you and Matt, I thought that love could truly save all. When I read about him leaving you in the roof of that train station to die when you had come out to surprise him and tell him you were pregnant, I wept. Your story is poignant and heartfelt, and as Augusten Burroughs says, essential reading. So very timely, and well written. I hope that at the time of this writing that you are happy and well. And housed….

  84. Suzanne says:

    Looked online to see if there was a “Planet Fitness” in (or close to) my area. No such luck !
    So…went to PF webpage, hoping to (on their “location suggestion/contact us” page) send them info on empty building in my area.(an abandoned Circuit City bldg.) However, I was not able to ‘submit’ my suggestion.
    So…I googled the empty bldg-brought up that page(which happened to have “email this page to a friend” capability)-put in PF email address, typed a short msg suggestion they (PF) open a location in this bldg.((*If not why not at least somewhere in my county or the next over county.))

    After reading in your book bout how you (for $10 a month membership), could take showers. Hoped that place like that existed here-maybe one will open soon???? Those who are able to take showers anytime they please, have no idea what it is like to not be able to “just take a shower” !!

    Almost closing time at the library—

    p.s. Still no work-last interview(job which I was totally qualified for)-did not get the job!!

    I sooooooooooooooooooooo need a company to just (bleedin) ‘give me a chance’ !!

  85. I just finished your book and I am truly inspired by your story! I work with a homeless prevention agency and you have given me an insight to what our clients are facing each and every day!! I wish you continued success and really hope that someday there can be an end to homelessness.

  86. Suzanne says:

    Well…still need car “overheating” problem fixed(but have no money to pay a mechanic) and…gas tank on (red mark) empty-stopped by a church to see if they would let me have a Dominick’s ‘gift card’ (so I could use it to put gas in my car)–got turned down. Not good to totally run out of gas-as cops will have ‘stranded’ car towed-which would put me & my son ‘on the street’ !
    Also will be losing a-l-l of our possessions as I do not have the $245 to pay storage place on July 1st.(in desperation-asked my ex-husband if he would help-he said no) NO churches or gov’t agencies will help with this as they see it as a “luxury”-WHAT A CROCK !! Luxury my arse!
    Next in the ‘things going wrong’ part of life: $99 sticker for license plate is due in July–again I don’t have the money for it, & again…no churches or gov’t agencies will help with this type of “bill”.
    “Fairy ‘Income’ Godmother”-where are you????(and how come you didn’t wave your wand over last job interview?)
    Happy July 4th–yeah right!–Somehow just don’t feel like being in a party/celebratory mood right now.

  87. Hi Brianna,

    I’m Liz, I’m 17, and I live on the East Coast. I just finished reading your book (I received it as a gift for Christmas) and very much enjoyed it. I found it to be extremely informative, well-written, realistic, and moving (among other things). I loved it, plain and simple, and I admire you greatly. Despite that you don’t wish to be famous, I hope many people read your story with an open mind and that many young women (and men and whomever) see you as a role model because in our present times especially, that is truly what you are. Being 17, and knowing that my induction into the “real world” is fast approaching, your story was in some ways comforting to me because I know that someone I can relate to was able to overcome a desperate situation. No, I can’t relate to your experience with the JW church (I have grown up as an atheist) though I found it fascinating to read about and I was saddened to learn certain things about the church and religion as well. I also can’t directly relate to the abuse you suffered from your parents I do have a parent who endured many forms of abuse from her likely bi-polar parent and a brother with bi-polar disorder as well as an ex-best friend with bi-polar disorder, so it all hit kind of close to home. I am so terribly sorry for all that you endured but I think it is amazing and very admirable how you survived in spite of or because of it all. I experienced a very traumatic event not long ago and I would like to think that it speaks to my character that I survived it – physically and emotionally – and that I have become a different and improved person in spite of and because of it. I think you are a lovely human being and a writer that I hope to see more from. I love that you turned your desperate situation into an opportunity to bring light to an issue that shockingly little is really known or intelligently discussed.
    Lastly, if you do end up reading this (I know you must be busy!) I would like to send my wishes to you and Fezzik that you get your dream Victorian home or one like it (or one even better than it) someday soon and that you both have good health and happiness, that you maintain/obtain steady employment (hopefully from a job you love that pays well), that you are able to one day again adopt your horse back (I can’t remember his/her name, sorry), that your mother some day realizes all she put you through and what a great person you are, that your sister realizes the cult-like mentality of the JW church and grows as a free-thinking person someday soon and hopefully that you two can establish a healthy, maybe close relationship, that your mother’s husband/your step-father grows a pair and becomes an equal partner in the marriage with your mother and that they also ex-communicate from the church, and that Matt comes to his senses (and back on his meds) and apologizes sincerely to you (and returns the photo album) and finally, that you find someone to love who loves you and never treats you less than a queen.

    Much love,

  88. Kaitlyn says:

    Hi Brianna,
    My name is Kaitlyn and I am 12 years old. I have just recently completed reading your book and astonished by how excellent the passage is. I am currently writing a report on your book for my sixth grade book report and I think everybody’s going to love this book! Your memoir really messed with my emotions, leaving me sad some nights, and happy on others. Your text showed me that anything is possible. It took a lot of courage for you to go through all of the trouble everyone in your life put you through. I believe your book, The Girl’s Guide To Homelessness, is life-changing and shows people what horror, disappointment, and anger really mean. By reading this, people realize what small things they should be grateful for, like a home and parents who love and give all of what they have for them. I would give your passage a 5 star rating and hope, someday, I become as fantastic of a writer as you are. I hope when you read this, does it not only make you proud of yourself for writing such a magnificent book, but makes you realize you can have a fresh start on life, with a brand new Brianna! Thank you for taking your precious time to read this, Kaitlyn. :-)

  89. I’ve recently been studying homelessness in my social justice class at school and some of the activities we’ve been doing (including reading this blog) have really opened my eyes. When people think of homelessness, they almost always think of people who are literally sleeping on the streets. I didn’t realize that a lot of homeless people are not in that exact situation. A lot of times you can look at someone and not even realize that they’re homeless. I’m so glad you’re keeping this blog because I think it’s really educational. Things like this will help people realize that homeless people are people just like them. The fact that they are homeless doesn’t mean they’re lazy and stupid; we have no idea what kinds of situations they’re dealing with. This blog will help tell people that homeless people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just like everyone else.


  1. [...] problematic.  Initially, I did as well, until I read her introduction and something about it just resonated with me.  No, she might not look or act like the guys panhandling on the Delaware Ave median, but she [...]

  2. [...] You can read more about how I became homeless here. [...]

  3. says:

    The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness…

    I have never been homeless before, but I plan to face this with humor and dignity. I am just like you, except without the convenience of a permanent address. The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness. A true story by Brianna Karp…….

  4. [...] The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness is about a year old. In February, 2009, 24-year-old Brianna Karp started blogging after she realized she would soon be homeless. Things have picked up considerably for her since then (she has a book coming out), but when she started, here was the situation, explained in her initial, gripping post: [...]

  5. [...] The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness is now over a year old. In February, 2009, 24-year-old Brianna Karp started blogging when she realized she would soon be without residence after losing her job. Things have picked up considerably for her since then (she has a book coming out), but here was the situation when she started, explained in her initial, gripping post: [...]

  6. [...] Karp, “Initiation” from “the Girl’s Guide to Homelessness,” February 23, [...]

  7. [...] 7.    I am so grateful to have a home.  What if I was homeless and spent whole days, weeks, months walking the streets with no money, no phone, no place to keep my stuff safe, no place to go to the bathroom.  This is the reality for millions. [...]

  8. [...] 7.    I am so grateful to have a home.  What if I was homeless and spent whole days, weeks, months walking the streets with no money, no phone, no place to keep my stuff safe, no place to go to the bathroom.  This is the reality for millions. [...]

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