Homeless But Connected

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Brianna Karp writes her blog, girlsguidetohomelessness.com, from a camper parked on Walmart’s parking lot near Riverside, California.

On Monday, she turned her blog about homelessness into a plum internship for the fashion bible Elle magazine, reports the AP.

Karp was 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. 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.”

E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist for Elle, offered Karp a $150-a-month job after Bri touched her in a letter, signing off Homeless, But Not Hopeless.

“The stereotypical ‘bum’ is actually a very small fraction of the homeless population,”, says Bri. “The overwhelming percentage of homeless people are like me and manage to blend in relatively well. In addition, even those that do fit the negative stereotypes are no less deserving of help; if anything, they are far more in need of it than the majority. With the necessary assistance, there is no reason that they couldn’t become a useful contributor to society.”

Her new job/internship will require one hour of work per day; if she’s still living in California she’ll be making less than the state’s $8 per hour minimum wage. Is this a case of old media cynically exploiting the homeless (and bloggers) or is it a great opportunity for the young woman? It might be both, says ReadWriteWeb.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 at 12:14 pm .

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