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O'Brien, Matt (Matthew)


Matthew O'Brien is a journalist, author, and college instructor who is known for his nonfiction book Beneath the Neon about homeless people living underground in the Las Vegas Valley. He lived in Las Vegas from 1997-2017. O'Brien was born in Washington D.C. but grew up in Atlanta, GA, where he graduated from the University of West Georgia in 1995. He also earned an MFA from UNLV. O'Brien was a staff writer, news editor and managing editor of the alternative weekly Las Vegas CityLife from 2000 to 2008. He wrote two stories about people living in the storm drains beneath Las Vegas for CityLife magazine with co-author Joshua Ellis, and then went on to complete a solo-authored book about this topic in 2007. His research and exploration of the underground drains and their residents was widely covered in the national and international press in both print and television. O'Brien also founded the Shine a Light charity to help residents of the tunnels. It supplies water, food, clothes, blankets and other items (when available) and also provides a variety of services, including housing, drug, medical and mental-health counseling, case management and referrals. He later wrote a non-fiction compilation of stories entitled My Week at the Blue Angel about various interesting characters and his experiences in modern-day Las Vegas. It was published in 2010. O'Brien has also taught English and creative writing at UNLV. In summer 2017 he moved to El Salvador to teach English at a private school. He continues to edit and develop content for Las Vegas publications such as Vegas Seven and