The bad news is that Jeffrey Hillman, the shoeless homeless guy who gave everyone a tug on the heartstrings when patrolman Lawrence DePrimo bought him a fancy new pair of boots, is shoeless once again:
“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Jeffrey Hillman tells the New York Times, after reporters caught up with him in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “I could lose my life.” He revealed mixed feelings about the moment that warmed hearts around the world. “I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” he asked. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”
What is wrong with this country when some people are allowed to work hard enough to collect whole closets full of shoes, even while others don’t have any shoes at all? Where is Jeffrey Hillman’s piece of the pie?
But now for the good news — Hillman isn’t really homeless:
For the past year, Jeffrey Hillman has had an apartment in the Bronx paid for through a combination of federal Section 8 rent vouchers and Social Security disability and veterans benefits, officials said Monday.
But nevertheless, the now-famous nomad has continued to panhandle and cling to the cold streets of Gotham.
It was a moment of sidewalk squalor — the 54-year-old veteran squatting barefoot in Times Square on a frigid night — and Officer Lawrence DePrimo’s singular expression of compassion — buying him expensive winter boots — that inspired a tourist’s cell phone picture and mesmerized the nation. Yet before DePrimo, an assortment of city agencies extended the troubled man a helping hand. …
Then the Daily News discovered Hillman had a loving, supportive family in Nazareth, Pa.
When watching tearjerker spectacles in the mainstream media, there’s no need to wonder what to believe. Play it safe and don’t believe any of it.
On tips from Winston Smith and Varla.