Green Room

About the “barefoot homeless man” …

posted at 1:39 pm on December 5, 2012 by

… it turns out that he’s neither homeless nor barefoot, at least not for lack of resources:

The homeless man who was given a pair of boots by a kindhearted New York City police officer apparently isn’t homeless. According to the New York Daily News, Jeffrey Hillman, 54, has an apartment in the Bronx that is paid for via a combination of rent vouchers, Social Security, and military veteran benefits. …

The Daily News reports that various city organizations have attempted to help Hillman. Barbara Brancaccio, a spokesperson for the city’s Homeless Service said, “He [Hillman] has a history of turning down services.”

The man’s brother, Kirk Hillman, told the Daily News that he hasn’t heard from Jeffrey since January. “We love our brother very much,” Kirk Hillman said. “Our door is always open to him, but this is a lifestyle he’s chosen.”

That in no way diminishes the generosity of Officer Lawrence DePrimo.  Nor does it minimize the people who are homeless and shoeless by circumstance rather than choice.  Hillman seems to be marching to his own drummer, and perhaps there’s an intriguing story of why he prefers to live on the street when he has better options, and why he’s reluctant to accept “services” from the city.

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persistent homelessness liberalism

Capitalist Hog on December 5, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I’m betting on some form of mental illness.

rbj on December 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Mr. Hillman just made the word “cynical” the most googled word of the month.

Well done, Mr. Hillman///

JPeterman on December 5, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Was this a attempt to tear down a good deed done by the cop? I smell something stinky about this. Soon it will come out that the cop drove around with his dog on the top of his car or something…

watertown on December 5, 2012 at 1:53 PM

In our area we have a disheveled looking gentleman who walks up and down the road all the time. He seems completely harmless and folks in our area buy him food and give him Christmas gifts. At one point he was wearing some unfortunate overalls with a tear that revealed the secret that he goes commando but someone convinced him to change his outfit. Maybe the officer’s act of kindness will be accepted more readily because it was impromptu and from the heart and not part of a bureaucracy.

Cindy Munford on December 5, 2012 at 1:55 PM

So, does he actually sleep in the apartment and just spend the day on the streets, or does he not live in the apartment at all? If the latter, the net result is that a variety of taxpayer money is being used to pay the landlord to maintain an empty apartment.

Smart government, baby.

sadarj on December 5, 2012 at 1:58 PM

LAPD did a survey of their “Homeless” in downtown. (The resettlement of downtown by ordinary people has failed largely due to this problem and all the resultant crime.)

They found that 25% of the people there have homes; they just hang out downtown because of the abundant drugs and free stuff and panhandling. IOW, if you subsidize it, it will come.

This particular man indulges in this lifestyle because society now allows him to, and even valorizes this lifestyle. Shame on us.

PattyJ on December 5, 2012 at 1:59 PM

perhaps there’s an intriguing story of why he prefers to live on the street when he has better options

Maybe he’s one of those weird people who think that living on the streets of Manhattan is better than living in some crappy apartment in the Bronx. I know a few of them.

steebo77 on December 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

no taxes on panhandling…

burserker on December 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

This is why I don’t give anything to the “Will Work For Food” guys I see in my travels. I’m finding out that way too many of them have the means to get by. I’m also finding out that, if you offer them work, they will turn it down.

CurtZHP on December 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Ed, “homelessness” is a lucrative business here in PDX. Rarely do you see an exit or entrance ramp to a freeway without a poor-looking soul with a cardboard sign begging for money. I’ve seen the same people doing it for over a decade, so it must pay well…

stick on December 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM

But has he gotten his “piece of the pie” – if so – it’s time to share…..
Come on Jeffrey cough it up….

redguy on December 5, 2012 at 2:18 PM

no taxes on panhandling…

burserker on December 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Oh boy – here come the taxocrats…..

redguy on December 5, 2012 at 2:18 PM

I used to ride the bus most days from my squarely middle class neighborhood in Minneapolis to my office downtown. There was a “homeless” man who got on at my stop in the morning and returned to the same one in the evening after his “job.” He pretty clearly had a home to stay in in my neighborhood, though it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it was a parent or relative.

TexasDan on December 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Ed, I agree with your assessment, but I believe there are other questions this story raises.

Howard Portnoy on December 5, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Nor does it minimize the people who are homeless and shoeless by circumstance rather than choice.

Unfortunately, if you look deeply into all of this, the folks who are homeless by circumstance are significantly fewer than those who do it “by choice” if you exclude mental illness from “circumstances” (and include ongoing drug use among “choices”). A huge part of the homeless population could be in a home, but they walk away from treatment or they cease taking their medications, and they end up on the street. (And, yes, another group of the “homeless” are purely scam artists.) You can’t really *solve* the problem of homelessness, partly because of these folks. Of course, a conservative recognizes that we can’t *solve* any of the ills that afflict mankind. All we can do is deal with each individual we encounter in a manner that reflects our principles.

GWB on December 5, 2012 at 3:15 PM

persistent homelessness liberalism

Capitalist Hog on December 5, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I’m betting on some form of mental illness.

rbj on December 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Capitalist Hog just mentioned that.

Sterling Holobyte on December 5, 2012 at 5:56 PM

“Nor does it minimize the people who are homeless and shoeless by circumstance rather than choice.”

My own experience, strictly anecdotal, is that this group composes a small minority of the homeless. Based on both my own interactions and stories I’ve heard from others, the majority have either self-selected based on lifestyle choices (drugs/alchohol, &c.) or are just bums. Ironically, in the three cases of homelessness I’ve encountered that were due to mental illness, the people were surprisingly enterprising and self-sufficient and really didn’t want help. The only charity one particular lady would take were the aluminum cans we would save for her.

About ten years ago I gave money to a panhandler whose sign was particularly touching. I can’t even remember what it said. I went though the intersection, drove to the nearest ATM, and gave the guy $20. At the time I was working but mostly broke. About an hour later I drove by the same intersection and saw the same man sitting behind the drive through sign at Burger King counting a stack of cash that was at least four inches thick. Prior to that I’d always heard that panhandling was nothing more than a lucrative con. Seeing it first hand ensured that this was the last time I ever gave money to a bum.

SAMinVA on December 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I’m betting on some form of mental illness.

rbj on December 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Agree.
When I was working for MHMR, there were more than a few that valued their “freedom” over the constraints of the helping organizations. Even met one railroad bum who preferred his lifestyle to having a home/job. Takes all kinds.

avagreen on December 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

SAMinVA on December 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM

You’re right on target. Again while working at MHMR, a few of these came in for treatment or they knew someone who panhandled….their report was the same as yours. One panhandler even had a home! With his parents. Which he left and went panhandling…for drug money. His father had warned him that if he did that one more time, he’d be kicked out. He did it one more time……

avagreen on December 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM