Jeffrey Hillman is not homeless, but the man has been accepting donations of money, food, and in one photo that went viral, shoes. The shoeless man became known overnight for accepting a generous donation of footwear from a concerned police officer, but it turns out he has a house and plenty of shoes already.
Jeffrey Hillman not only isn't homeless, but hasn't been for some time. The 54-year-old war veteran has been living in housing provided by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs via Section 8 for the last year. Along with his Bronx apartment, he has over 30 pairs of shoes, and was spotted counting cash on the NYC subway.
Despite fooling the public with his "homeless" sign and lack of footwear- "I choose not to wear the shoes," Hillman told The New York Post- the fake beggar feels he has done nothing wrong.
"I sure didn't force him to do it, sir," Hillman told a CBS New York reporter when asked about the pair of shoes he had received from the officer. When asked about the wad of cash and the "homeless" sign, Hillman claimed he "found" them both.
Some are not concerned with Hillman's panhandling, choosing to help support him anyways. Along with government assistance, the barefoot man also receives aid from a childhood friend, Rev. John Graf Jr.
"It's not fair, but a lot of things in life aren't fair," Graf, who created the Jeffrey Hillman Survivors Fund, told The New York Daily News. "But I'm not going to sit back and just let him be another homeless person."
Others have chosen to focus on the initial act of kindness that first sparked the viral photo and story. NYPD officer Larry DePrimo chose to purchase $100 all-weather boots and thermal socks for Hillman from a nearby Skechers and later told WCBS 880 that the shoeless man had "a smile from ear to ear" when he received them.
"That's life in New York in terms of people who try to scam us. We know that happens," NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS. "But it was a generous act of kindness."