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Barefoot Homeless Man in Viral Photo Isn’t Really Homeless, Officials Say

Barefoot Homeless Man in Viral Photo Isn't Really Homeless
Jennifer Foster

The story behind the inspirational viral photo of a NYPD police officer giving a pair of expensive boots to a barefoot homeless man continues to unfold. Earlier this week, we learned that Jeffrey Hillman was no longer wearing the boots for fear of his life and now it’s come out that he isn’t homeless at all.

Turns out, Hillman has an apartment in the Bronx which is paid for by the federal government under the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program. Usually, tenants are responsible for paying 30 percent of their rent, but Hillman receives other benefits like Social Security which make up for this.

Although he has a stable home, Hillman still needs help, according to NYC Commissioner of Homeless Services Seth Diamond.

“Just because he has an apartment doesn’t mean our work is done with him,” said Diamond. “He is not dressed for the weather, he is not engaged in a healthy lifestyle and he is not leading a productive life.”

From 2009-2011, Hillman lived in housing sites called “Safe Havens,” but was deemed capable of living on his own in 2011. Still, this is only a first step in getting Hillman off the streets.

“Housing is an important first step that builds the foundation, but there is more that needs to be done,” Diamond said. “The initial problems that put them on the street need to be addressed like mental health, substance abuse, physical issues, employment.”

What do you think of this ongoing saga?

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