HUFFINGTON POST

Former Miss Colorado USA Blair Griffith Details Her 'Double Life' As A Beauty Queen Who Ended Up Homeless

04/01/2015 11:34 am ET | Updated Apr 01, 2015

Former pageant queen Blair Griffith grew up in a nice house in an affluent neighborhood, but it all changed when she lost her father to prostate cancer when she was 15. Her mother, now a single parent, was so stressed that she had a heart attack. Her insurance company decided it was the result of a pre-existing condition, leaving the family to pay more than $500 a week for her medication. Eventually the family couldn't afford rent, and they were evicted.

Griffith shared her painful story of how she ended up homeless when she was seemingly on top of the world during an interview with HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski on Wednesday.

"I was in my early 20s, and this actually happened right after I had won the title of Miss Colorado USA back in 2011, so it was really, really hard to be sort of living this double life of being this beauty queen where everything had to seem perfect on the outside, but inside going home -- or not going home -- at night, wondering, 'Where am I going to sleep tonight?' or 'What am I going to do next?'" Griffith said.

Though she was ashamed of her story at first, now Griffith is joining forces with Start From Here, a campaign to end youth homelessness, in an effort to expose as many people as possible to the true stories of the homeless experience.

Watch Griffith describe living her "double life" in the video above.

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  • Laura*
    Westend61 via Getty Images
    Laura was 18 when she was evicted. Sadly, a homeless centre was the only option left for her.

    Despite the homeless centre informing external services that they didn't have accommodation available for Laura, she was dropped at the door of a drop-in centre at 4pm with her possessions and with no plan.

    There was no viable option for accommodation so the agency who dropped her off suggested that she stayed with a friend who lived in supported accommodation. With no permission from the landlord, this situation placed the friend in breech of her tenancy.

    At this point in her life, Laura had left care for just a few months. She had no positive role models in her life and did not grow up learning the skills others often take for granted.

    She had been victim to repeated abuse and would spend long periods out of contact. On some occasions, she was registered as 'missing persons'. The abuse, as well as other scarring life events, have left her with little trust for others.

    Agencies continue to work together to try to assist Laura but she continues to move through life from one crisis to another. She is a very vulnerable person. Meanwhile, safe and appropriate accommodation is hard to find.

    Laura eventually sabotaged all efforts to assist her and failed to attend numerous support and safeguarding meetings.

    She is currently living with her family, but should this come to an end, her lifestyle means that she will remain a concern of sexual exploitation.
  • Elizabeth*
    Vladimir Godnik via Getty Images
    Elizabeth is in her fifties and has worked hard all her life, as has her husband and her brother-in-law. When they lost their jobs they also lost their home.

    They left their home and felt they had no other option but to sleep for many weeks in their small hatchback car without anyone knowing they were homeless.

    They sold what possessions they had in order to buy food - they even sold Elizabeth’s jewellery.

    They were taken into temporary accommodation by an organisation who only work with singles, such was the level of concern and compassion required to change the situation.

    Housing benefit did not cover the rent which left the family penniless to keep a roof over their heads. During this time they lost their car, an expense they could no longer afford.

    To keep the family together, Elizabeth took on part-time jobs walking where ever she needed to get to. Sometimes she would walk for miles to obtain food parcels and other assistance they needed.

    After six months they were finally offered a flat, but the lead up to this beacon of light has taken a toll on Elizabeth’s health.

    The family are accommodated and receiving ongoing support. But life still remains a struggle for them as they juggle between work and benefits.
  • Charlotte*
    Shutterstock / altanaka
    Charlotte left supported accommodation when she was 23. Late one evening, she showed up at a police station.

    She was referred to emergency accommodation but due to her tendency to be distracted, it took her a further six hours for her to get there. She only just managed to secure her place.

    With support, Charlotte moved into a private let. Six months later she was homeless again.

    Charlotte was subject to threats and abuse from a man and was forced to flee the property. The man was imprisoned shortly after.

    She then gave up her room in a shared house and went to stay with relatives. During this time, she neglected her benefits claim and it lapsed.

    Charlotte has borderline mental health problems but finds it impossible to engage with mental health services. She was unable to stay with her relative as she could not adhere to the rules there.

    She has since been supported with new benefits applications and has found a different private let.

    Sadly, Charlotte recently spent time in prison. She is now being supported once again and hopes to move soon.
  • Tamsin*
    Dusica Paripovic via Getty Images
    Tamsin arrived at a homeless project after handing her keys into a housing association and leaving the area. She had not been coping in her accommodation and felt that she had no option but to leave.

    She showed a grave lack of understanding regarding her situation and expected that she would be immediately rehoused in a new area. But this was not the case, as she had made herself intentionally homeless.

    Tamsin suffers with some learning difficulties and struggles to engage with services. She instigates relationships with men so that she can stay in their house. She will stay until either the men cannot cope with her or have "had enough of her". Then she returns to services, hoping for help.

    She has been accommodated with various landlords but causes problems with her antisocial behaviour or gets into arrears and is evicted.

    Tamsin fails to keep appointments and lives a chaotic and muddled life. She frequently attends the police station or local authority homelessness contact centre. She has been picked up by the local authority emergency duty team but any attempts to give ongoing support fail and at times it is impossible to unpick the complexity of her accounts.

    Tamsin disappears for weeks on end, prostitutes herself and returns for support in sorting her benefits out or to make a call. She travels from area to area and declines much of the help offered. She has exhausted resources to assist her. Currently her situation is unknown and she has no means of contact.

    The charity that works with her expects that she has forged another relationship and is living with someone, which they believe could present a very dangerous situation.
  • Sarah*
    Jonathan Morgan via Getty Images
    Sarah is 19 and suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks.

    She couldn't get on with her step father and mother, so they decided it was time for her to move out of the family home.

    She was given support to help her see her doctor, a successful claim for benefits was made and shared housing was secured with the basics she required to move in. However Sarah was not happy living in shared accommodation as she had reservations about sharing with others. Her anxiety and panic attacks got worse and she had to move back home.

    Sarah had experienced some independence, which she liked, and this made life at home harder. The family situation once again broke down and she needed support as she had nowhere to go.

    She felt unable to live at home and not confident enough to live in shared accommodation.

    Finally, after six months of support she received an offer of accommodation and was supported to move in. Ongoing support has been offered to give Sarah the best chance for success.
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