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Barefoot Homeless Man Given Boots By NYPD Cop, Isn't Actually Home...
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Barefoot Homeless Man Given Boots By NYPD Cop, Isn't Actually Homeless

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/jeffrey-hillman-homeless_n_2236965.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl19%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D241324

It turns out the homeless, barefoot man who captured the hearts of thousands isn’t actually homeless. Jeffrey Hillman, the recipient of a pair of boots given by a good samaritan New York City police officer, has an apartment in the Bronx, officials told the New York Daily News.

According to the Daily News, the 54-year-old Hillman lived in transitional housing sites called “Safe Havens,” from 2009 until 2011. He then secured his current apartment through a Department of Veterans Affairs program that helps homeless vets. Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman for the city agency, told the Daily News that outreach services continue to try and help Hillman, but he “has a history of turning down services.”

After New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo spotted Hillman barefoot on the street in November, the cop went and bought the man a pair of warm boots. DePrimo's act of kindness was photographed by a passerby and posted online, where it went viral and drew attention to both men.

A New York Times reporter caught up with Hillman on Sunday night and found that he was barefoot once again. The veteran told the reporter that he had hidden the shoes DePrimo had given him because, "They are worth a lot of money.” According to the Times, Hillman also said that he appreciated the handout, but that he wants "a piece of the pie" from the viral photo of DePrimo's good deed, since it was posted to the Internet without his permission.

"Shelter and a pair of shoes are a start,” Muzzy Rosenblatt, executive director of Bowery Residents Committee, told NBC New York, “but easy access to quality services is critical to helping people reclaim their lives.”

Hillman's relatives were shocked to learn from news reports just how dire his living conditions are. They said they remain willing to take him in and help him out.

“Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him,” Alegra Hall, Hillman’s niece, told the New York Post earlier this week. “He knows that, he’s well aware of that.”

Others close to Hillman refuse to give up on him. When Rev. John Graf Jr. learned of his old friend’s situation, he pledged to help by setting up a "Jeffrey Hillman Survivors Fund."

“It’s not fair, but a lot of things in life aren’t fair,” Graf told the Daily News. “But I’m not going to sit back and just let him be another homeless person.”

While Hillman’s story hasn’t unfolded with the happy ending supporters may have hoped for, observers say it shouldn’t detract from DePrimo's original kindness.

Whether or not Hillman is actually homeless and what he decided to do with the gifted shoes "doesn't make DePrimo's action any less generous. And it doesn't make it any less of a good example," New York Magazine's Adam Martin wrote. "We'd much rather live in a world where people are inclined to do nice things for strangers than in one where everybody's a jerk because they're afraid of getting scammed."
19 Comments
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285927_tn?1380802356
Whether or not Hillman is actually homeless and what he decided to do with the gifted shoes "doesn't make DePrimo's action any less generous. And it doesn't make it any less of a good example," New York Magazine's Adam Martin wrote. "We'd much rather live in a world where people are inclined to do nice things for strangers than in one where everybody's a jerk because they're afraid of getting scammed."

Yes, this cop that helped and what was in his heart cannot be diminished imo.
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649848_tn?1357751184
Absolutely - his gesture should not be overshadowed by the fact that the "homeless" man wasn't really homeless.  We need more people to help others like that.
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480448_tn?1403547723
The good deed is no less wonderful, but it does kind of make me mad to read this:

They are worth a lot of money.” According to the Times, Hillman also said that he appreciated the handout, but that he wants "a piece of the pie" from the viral photo of DePrimo's good deed, since it was posted to the Internet without his permission.

What's he going to do, sue someone?  Sigh.
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285927_tn?1380802356
Not unless he sells them shoes! LOL Okay, not funny, but I was struck by the fact that we have a guy who is down and out that will not take handouts very readily, will not accept help from his family. Pride? I dunno, but I do know that people who have very little are very obsessive about someone stealing what they do have and so is common to hide any prized possessions? I guess you would have to be inside this guys world to understand. I sure dont. Hope I never do either.
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480448_tn?1403547723
I guess you would have to be inside this guys world to understand.

True.  I just would hate to see a gesture of kindness end up being exploited for big sums of money...that would be sad.
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285927_tn?1380802356
Yes it would. I totally agree.
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377493_tn?1356505749
Reading what this man said, as and his history, I suspect that he has some serious mental health issues.  He is walking around barefoot because the shoes were worth a lot of money so he hid them?  That doesn't sound like straight thinking to me.  I think it's a bit sad that this story is portraying him as some con artist, when in reality he is likely rather ill.

I love what this cop did.  I wish there were more folks like him out there.  
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973741_tn?1342346373
Yes, I agree with adgal.  Some people on the street are actually very wealthy and from solid, well to do families.  However, they have untreated mental illness.  Hopefully this man is on an intervention team's radar now in case he needs medication.

But the police are kind hearted to help.  I too hope that there isn't any type of financial repercussion for the police force due to a lawsuit over the picture.  That would be unfortunate and make their future giving less, I'd suspect.  
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1530342_tn?1405020090
That's CRAZY!

"Whether or not Hillman is actually homeless and what he decided to do with the gifted shoes "doesn't make DePrimo's action any less generous. And it doesn't make it any less of a good example," New York Magazine's Adam Martin wrote. "We'd much rather live in a world where people are inclined to do nice things for strangers than in one where everybody's a jerk because they're afraid of getting scammed."


I agree!
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973741_tn?1342346373
Yes, that is really the most unfortunate part.  I hope this doesn't deter anyone from trying to help or do good.  
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480448_tn?1403547723
I agree Amanda.  Not too many people without a mental illness would choose that kind of lifestyle.  And, like you said, the thinking process behind the hiding of the boots demonstrates that most likely, something isn't right.

I would just hate to see this genture cheapened, or picked apart.  It's sad that he won't let his family help him, although who knows what kind of dynamics are in play there.  His family could have disowned him, but now that he's in the spotlight, they're giving the impression that they have an open door.

Anything is possible.

I love the whole idea of random acts of kindness.  There needs to be more of that in this world.  People doing nice things for others, without being asked, pressured, or forced to...and without the desire for any kind of recognition.
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377493_tn?1356505749
Due to the nature of the housing he has received (transitional shelter, then housed through the Department of Veteran Affairs) it sounds like he is part of what is called a housing first program.  It is a part of the National Alliance to End Homelessness (a US agency) to get people out of shelter or off the streets and into permanent housing.  Typically, there is case managment associated, so home visits, etc. to ensure that the individual or family stays housed and that their needs are being met.   We have these programs here in Canada now too.  These programs work very well, with approximately an 85% success rate.  So it is likely that he is receiving help.  Problem is that a lot of the folks with these serious mental health conditions aren't willing to do things like take their medication and there is nothing we can do to force them.  It's also not uncommon for there to be breaks with family ties - either due to an inability on the part of the family to cope, or because the individual involved is so deep in their delusion that they come to belive their family means them harm.  It's so sad, so very very sad.  And unfortuantely a very high percentage of those that are homeless are veterans struggling with severe delusions or PTSD.  It's just so so sad.
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285927_tn?1380802356
I agree adgal. About 30 minutes away from where I live is a homeless shelter. They used to have so many beds for men, so many for women, and so many for families. The men it seems, are the ones who just use it for a nights sleep and dont do anything to try to pick themselves up. Dont know why that is, so anyway, they took the mens quarters and made them for family. They said the rise in families being on the streets is unreal since the recession.

There are some wooded areas in that area as well where the homeless have taken up residence. You can go in that area with a flashlight after dark and their are literally hundreds of em in there. The local police have chased em off time after time. I dont know why unless it is because in back of the wooded area is a daycare center. You go down the street or stop at a park anywhere and you see them everywhere. The children attend school, eat at school, when they leave they go back to the streets with their parents. Its getting really bad here. This doesnt have anything to do with this subject does it? Sorry for the distraction but I think it is important to understand this problem is growing big time.
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377493_tn?1356505749
It is an incredibly big problem.  An unbelievable amount of families are literally 1 paycheque away from the streets.  So if there is an extra cost like medication, or someone gets sick and needs time off of work, they can and frequently do lose their housing.

The biggest problem around dealing with this issue is the social stigma associated with poverty and homelessness.  So many people make automatic assumptions about the individual or family, and it just makes it that much harder for them to get back on their feet.  Like everyone else in society, homeless people are not all the same - the reasons for their situation are varied and each is unique.   Assuming that all are there due to drugs, alcohol or other reasons is about as logical as assuming all blonds are dumb, know what I mean?  Just not true, and it's frustrating as all get out.  
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285927_tn?1380802356
I agree. And in America at that. Its really a sad situation.
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377493_tn?1356505749
Here too my friend.  If your really interested in learning more about the programs and plans, google !0 Year Plan to End Homelessness.  I believe we are currently in year 5.  It's interesting if you have an interest in this stuff.
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285927_tn?1380802356
I do, and I will. Thanks for the link dear one! :)
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I would just hate to see this genture cheapened, or picked apart.  It's sad that he won't let his family help him, although who knows what kind of dynamics are in play there.

I think that even if the guy was rich, it couldn't cheapen what the officer did. An act of kindness is never wasted even if the recipient is unworthy in the eyes of others.
NG, I know you were not saying that at all but it is a thought that initially occurs to everyone and some will let it dilute the humanity of the act, so I just wanted to use those words as my soap box. Hope you don't mind, I know *you* are not saying that..
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163305_tn?1333672171
I agree with the group that an act of kindness is a wonderful thing, irregardless of circumstances.

We don't know about this man's family situation, the extent that PTSD affects him or his mind.

We do know, a cop did a good thing.
Let's use this as a good reminder to be kind.
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