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Barefoot Man Not Homeless, Boots Already Missing

Barefoot Man Not Homeless, Report From New York Shows

The barefoot man who received a pair of boots from a kind police officer is not homeless, reports from New York City say.

The moment between the New York City police officer and the barefoot man was captured on camera and soon became a viral hit. The picture showed officer Lawrence DePrimo buying a pair of new boots for Jeffrey Hillman, who was lying on the ground barefoot.

It now turns out that the barefoot man is not homeless, as was previously reported.

“He does have stable housing,” Seth Diamond, New York City’s homeless services commissioner, tells NBC New York. “We’ve worked with Mr. Hillman for years.”

Though not homeless, the barefoot man is still considered at risk. He was homeless until 2009, but moved into temporary housing and eventually an apartment secured by Veterans Affairs, paying rent with his lifetime voucher for homeless veterans and his social security income.

Hillman often panhandles in Times Square, NBC New York notes, often while barefoot.

Not only is the barefoot man not homeless, but he is again without shoes. An NBC producer tracked down Hillman on Saturday night, but the man’s new boots were gone.

Hillman gave varying reasons as to why he was barefoot again, but said it boils down to safety.

“Those shoes are hidden,” he told the New York Times.”They are worth a lot of money.”

Though the viral picture touched the heartstrings of millions of people, Diamond said reaching ar-risk people such as Hillman often requires more than a single gesture.

“I understand why it could be frustrating for New Yorkers,” Diamond said. “They see a person in this situation and they think no one has been helping. Outreach teams continue to try to work with him, but he has a history of turning down services.”

Does it make this story any different to you to learn that the barefoot man is not homeless?

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11 Responses to “Barefoot Man Not Homeless, Boots Already Missing”

  1. Anonymous

    The kind hearted policeman should still be commended for his attempt to help out a person he deemed to be in need of help. Most people would walk past him acting like they didn't see him sitting there, even law enforcement. The fact that he hasn't been wearing the boots given to him (in NYC, in December- BRRR!) indicates to me that this man may be in need of mental help. As a veteran, he is eligible for medical care at the local veteran's hospitals. God Bless the kind-hearted young policeman that gave him the boots.

  2. Anonymous

    well as a single woman who was homeless for awhile, the mans comment about his safety is a legitimate one. Anything of value puts you at risk. I find it sad that he has a home and doesn't utilize it.. being homeless was the worst thing..its hard to explain the vulnerability and worthlessness I felt. It is so hard to start over without help, and he has help, it just really saddens me that he is not making different choices.

  3. Chaya Kostelicki

    The man probably needs something else, not boots, not monies, not humiliation or shame. If I were his social worker, I'd look into more restrictive housing, as in an inpatient treatment center.
    We, as people who don't have to depend on total strangers for help, don't get what it is to be marginalized, mentally ill, a homess individual, muchless a homeless vet. Help out where you can, don't assume that monies are the solution, sometimes it is, not always.

  4. Delores Johnson

    Even though the cop did a compassionate thing, the "homeless" man is OBVIOUSLY a con artist. If he was REALLY a truthful man, like so many homeless people are, he would have thanked him for his kind gesture and told him that he had a place to live that is being paid for by his VETERAN'S LIFETIME VOUCHER and HIS social security check. No wonder homeless people are often thought of as just being con men.

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