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?