Barefoot NYC Man Isn't Homeless

Veterans program secured housing for Jeffrey Hillman since 2009

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 4, 2012 2:34 AM CST | Updated Dec 4, 2012 6:00 AM CST
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(Newser) – Looks like Jeffrey Hillman's problems are a lot more complicated than mere shoelessness: The 54-year-old panhandler given new shoes by an NYPD officer and seen barefoot again days later used to be homeless, but has had an apartment in the Bronx secured by Veterans Affairs since 2009, officials tell NBC 4. "He does have stable housing," says New York City's homeless services commissioner. "We’ve worked with Mr. Hillman for years."

"I understand why it could be frustrating for New Yorkers," he continues. "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." Hillman's rent is paid via a lifetime voucher for homeless veterans and his Social Security; officials confirm he still lives in the apartment. Homeless experts say they hope Hillman's story won't detract from the officer's act of kindness or stop others from helping the homeless. "Shelter and a pair of shoes are a start, but easy access to quality services is critical to helping people reclaim their lives and not just simply have a bed," the director of an outreach group says.

NYPD officer Larry DePrimo presents Hillman with new boots in Times Square.
NYPD officer Larry DePrimo presents Hillman with new boots in Times Square.   (AP Photo/Jennifer Foster)
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