Inquiries now show that Jeffrey Hillman, a homeless man that became quasi-famous when he was given a pair of boots by an NYPD officer, is not without a home.
According to USA Today, Hillman officially lives in Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing since 2011. Within the project, he receives an apartment in the Bronx, paid for by the U.S. government.
Seth Diamond, the NYC Commissioner of Homeless Services, notes that having a roof over his head does not solve the man's problems.
“Just because he has an apartment doesn't mean our work is done with him. [...] He is not dressed for the weather, he is not engaged in a healthy lifestyle, and he is not leading a productive life.
“Housing is an important first step that builds the foundation, but there is more that needs to be done. [...] The initial problems that put them on the street need to be addressed like mental health, substance abuse, physical issues, employment,” Diamond explains.
Over the weekend, 54-year-old Hillman was caught on camera, still barefoot. Asked why he doesn't wear the pair of boots he received from officer DePrimo, he responded that, because of their value, he could lose his life over them.
As we reported yesterday, he was employed in the Army as a “food service specialist,” for five years. He has a family – a brother and two children, Nikita, 22, and Jeffrey, 24.
“Our door is always open to him, but this is a lifestyle he’s chosen,” brother Kirk says.
He was listed as homeless since 2009, and lived in Safe Havens from 2009 to 2011. Safe Havens are transitional housing units set up by the government to help those dubbed as being unstable, and without the possibility to live on their own.
Hillman is a 1976 South Plainfield high-school, New Jersey alumn. Former students at South Plainfield set up a Facebook page to help out Jeffrey Hillman, under the Jeffrey Hillman Survival Fund title.
“I'm very worried about him, considering that you realize he does have an apartment. […] The point is that he's lost. We have to somehow as a class -- since we're a family and he's still one of us -- be able to reach him and give him a helping hand up if we can. That's our main concern,” ex-classmate Ellen Shapiro DeMaio says.