Jobless, Homeless Blogger Gets Magazine Work

Six months ago, Brianna Karp found herself living in an old truck and camper she inherited after the suicide of a father she barely knew.

On Monday, her life became a 21st century fairytale when she turned her blog about homelessness into a plum internship for the fashion bible Elle magazine.

This is a story about love and Twitter, hope and the relative safety of a Walmart parking lot. Bri is our star, but there's also Matt, her trans-Atlantic boyfriend who found her on the streets of Orange County, Calif., as she wrote about her predicament at

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And there's E. Jean Carroll, a popular advice columnist for Elle who reached out with a $150-a-month job after Bri touched her in a letter, signing off Homeless, But Not Hopeless.

But to Bri and Matt, it's also a story about thousands of other smart, skilled, can-do people who recently had work and real addresses but don't any more.

"So inaccurate is the public perception of homelessness that the world cries foul when a homeless person is seen with a mobile phone or an iPod or heaven forbid, a laptop," Matt said. "Homeless people don't use the Internet, they don't write blogs, they're not webmasters and they don't use Twitter. They are alcoholics, they are substance abusers, they are illiterate. They don't work. They sure as hell don't have the right to fall in love. Do they?"

‘I had a few hundred dollars left’

Matthew Barnes, 36, and Brianna Karp, 24, are none of those bad things, some of those good things and did just that.

Karp left her emotionally unstable mother at age 18, later landing as an executive assistant at Kelley Blue Book's headquarters in Irvine, Calif. When she was laid off in July 2008, she lived on temp work and unemployment benefits until she couldn't afford to keep her $1,500-a-month, 600-square-foot cottage in Costa Mesa.

"I had a few hundred dollars left," Karp said. "I had been working a very decent job earning about $50,000 a year. But I couldn't keep relying on finding a new job. I moved in with my mother and her husband for a month or two, but it didn't work out. It was tense."

On Feb. 26, she took advantage of a Walmart policy allowing owners of recreational vehicles to use some of their store parking lots for overnight stays, heading for one in Brea with her Mastiff, Fezzik. And she blogged from Starbucks while she continued to search for work, buying $5 cards each month that entitled her to sip coffee and soak up unlimited Wi-Fi.

"I was unassuming and well dressed and I didn't bother anyone," she said. "It's a great resource when you're homeless. It's invaluable. They were always happy to see me."

She rolled out her resume at the rate of 30 or 40 each day, picking up a little more temp work, living at Walmart in the 30-foot camper with no heat, running water or means to cook. She wrote as a way to stay in touch with the world. Soon, other homeless people were leaving comments on her blog, telling their stories and cheering her on.

"I was definitely surprised just how many homeless and former homeless people are online and using social media to seek opportunities," Karp said.

Read the full AP story here: