NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The homeless man seen getting boots from a New York City police officer — in a photo that went viral – is not actually homeless.
Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster took a snapshot of Officer Larry DePrimo giving a barefoot man a new pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks in Times Square on Nov. 14.
DePrimo, 25, was stationed at his foot post at the corner of 44th Street and Broadway that frigid night when he noticed an elderly homeless man, shoeless, on the sidewalk.
“I went up to him and I was like, ‘where are your shoes?’ He said ‘it’s OK officer…I’ve never had a pair of shoes…but God bless you and thank you for doing what you’re doing,’” DePrimo told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
DePrimo went to the Skechers shoe store nearby and purchased $100 all-weather boots and socks for the man.
“When I brought out the shoes, it was just a smile from ear to ear, so it was absolutely amazing,” DePrimo told WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond.
DePrimo said he did not notice anyone around him taking a picture of his good deed.
The photo became an instant hit after it was posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page.
On Tuesday, CBS News reported that Jeffrey Hillman, the man captured in the photo with DePrimo, has been living rent-free in an apartment since late last year.
Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond told CBS News that Hillman has been on the city agency’s radar for a while. “We’re sure because we’ve had such a sustained engagement with him for so many years,” Diamond said.
Hillman receives benefits because he is a veteran, Diamond said, and is enrolled in a veteran-focused part Section 8.
Hillman also receives benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, Diamond said, adding the apartment comes with case management services, which Hillman doesn’t use.
Hillman is also a recipient of disability benefits through Social Security, a Homeless Services official told CBS News.
“The apartment is paid for,” said Diamond. “What he needs is a more productive way to spend his life, and that’s what we’re trying to do with him.”
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