LOS ANGELES – A US beauty queen has become the latest victim of the economic downturn -- she is homeless and faces losing her day job, months before vying to be crowned Miss USA.

Miss Colorado USA Blair Griffith and her mother have been living with a family friend since being evicted last November, after her father died and her mother suffered a heart attack.

She had only been crowned the previous month. "It was a difficult thing to go through to sit there and go, 'Where are we going to go now?'" the 23-year-old told local 9news TV station.

Her troubles started nine years ago, when her father Gary died of cancer.

"I was sad. But I said, 'I can't spend my time being so sad about it because I know my dad,'" she said. "He wanted to see so much out of me."

She won Miss Colorado Teen USA in 2006 on her fourth try -- but then three years ago her mother Bonita had a heart attack, leading to major surgery which tested the family's finances.

"Financially, it became difficult for us," said Griffith, a magna cum laude graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado.

Then, as well losing her home, she is losing her job at a local branch of Saks Fifth Avenue, which is closing in March.

"You do sit there and go, 'Oh gosh, not again.' But at the same time I think it's almost like a test .. to see if you can handle it, and what will you make out of your situation."

Her next target is the national Miss USA title, to be decided at a pageant in Las Vegas on June 19.

"I could sit here and go, OK, 'I'm technically homeless, and going through so much.' But how can I complain when I have this great title, Miss Colorado USA, at the same time?"

"I have no place to complain about anything that's going on in my life. There's so many people that are going through the same exact situation. I hope to inspire people," she added.