On the most recent season debut of American Idol, viewers watched as a 24-year-old from Tennessee named Amy Brumfield won a golden ticket to Hollywood. Besides her soulful rendition of an Alicia Keys song, what made Brumfield stand out from the pack is that she lives in a tent in the woods with her boyfriend and dog. “We can’t afford a $100-a-week hotel room, you know,” said Brumfield. “The only thing we can do is live in a tent in the woods and cook soup over a fire.”
On the show, Brumfield explained that she ended up living in a tent after a string of unlucky incidents, including extended bouts of unemployment. Her inability to find work may have to do with the fact that she was arrested six times in the past seven years, as reported on the Today Show. In one case, Brumfield is alleged to have been severely intoxicated and to have urinated in public at a Baskin Robbins.
Even if she is not the most sympathetic figure, Brumfield’s plight does put the spotlight on the growing number of homeless who are resorting to tents for shelter.
In recent years, tent cities reminiscent of the Great Depression have popped up around the country, from Southern California to St. Petersburg, Fla., to a community called Transition Park in Camden, N.J. A tent city dubbed Dignity Village was born outside Portland, Ore., in 2000 by homeless campers who had regularly been forced to move from place to place. After a legal battle with the city, Portland eventually recognized Dignity Village, which is located near a composting facility, a prison, and the airport, as a legal city campground. The city even paid for Dignity Village’s tents to be replaced with sturdier wooden structures that don’t quite qualify as cabins.
Joe Giammona, 31, told Fox News last summer that he wound up at a tent city in Lakewood, N.J., after moving to the area from Florida and failing to find work for four months. Family offered to help Giammona land on his feet, but he said he needs to get out of this situation on his own. Previously, Giammona worked as a landscaper and general contractor. “It’s been impossible to find a job,” he said. “They’re just not hiring at this time. I’ve been everywhere.”
Giammona is part of a tent city that’s been sanctioned by the local government as a campground for the homeless. Some tent cities are illegal, though, and it’s unclear if American Idol contestant Brumfield is squatting or camping legally.
We should all find out a bit more about Brumfield when the latest show airs tonight. It looks like “Tent Girl” won’t be in the spotlight for long, however: She reportedly leaked the news that she was eliminated from the competition on her Facebook page.