The homeless man who was given a pair of boots by a kindhearted New York City police officer apparently isn't homeless. According to the New York Daily News, Jeffrey Hillman, 54, has an apartment in the Bronx that is paid for via a combination of rent vouchers, Social Security, and military veteran benefits.
Hillman and Officer Lawrence DePrimo became Internet sensations after a visiting tourist posted a photo of DePrimo giving Hillman a pair of boots from a nearby Sketchers store. The photo went viral. Yesterday, we ran a story about how Hillman was spotted around New York City, again barefoot.
Those shoes are hidden," Hillman told the New York Times. "They are worth a lot of money—I could lose my life."
The Daily News reports that various city organizations have attempted to help Hillman. Barbara Brancaccio, a spokesperson for the city's Homeless Service said, "He [Hillman] has a history of turning down services."
The man's brother, Kirk Hillman, told the Daily News that he hasn't heard from Jeffrey since January. "We love our brother very much," Kirk Hillman said. "Our door is always open to him, but this is a lifestyle he's chosen."
Jeffrey Hillman told The New York Times that he is grateful for the boots from Officer DePrimo. "I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost."
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