Barefoot 'Homeless' Man's Real Story

When it was revealed that the man who received a pair of boots from a NYPD officer actually had an apartment, this heartwarming holiday story lost some of its perfect packaging. 

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Jennifer Foster/AP

New York City police Officer Lawrence DePrimo sees a homeless man sitting barefoot in Times Square on a cold night. He goes to the closest Skechers store and buys the disabled vet a pair of boots. He helps him put them on. A tourist snaps a photo. She shares it on Facebook. America is touched by the image of compassion and human kindness.

That touching holiday-season story was stripped of some of its seemingly perfect packaging when Jeffrey Hillman -- the recipient of the boots -- was spotted without them a few days later.

The Daily News reported that the "barefoot homeless man" wasn't quite homeless. He's reportedly had an apartment in the Bronx, N.Y. -- paid for through a combination of federal Section 8 rent vouchers and Social Security disability and veterans benefits -- for the past year.

Is all that reason to feel cynical instead of sentimental? Not necessarily. The story was about DePrimo's gesture of compassion. Hhe reached out to help a man who, whatever else was going on in his life, was, in fact, outside without shoes on a cold day. Hillman's "It's complicated" relationship with homelessness and need doesn't change the significance of that act of kindness at all, if you ask us.  

Read more at the Daily News.

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