Homeless by Choice


Hillman’s high school yearbook photo (courtesy of the Daily News)

Jeffrey Hillman cannot stop making headlines lately. Not bad for a 54-year-old homeless man.

His “claim to fame” started when on-duty New York police officer Lawrence DePrimo noticed him barefoot on the street and bought him some boots. This random act of kindness blew up on Facebook and has since gone viral in every sense of the word.

Then someone from the New York Times noticed Hillman was again barefoot on the Upper West Side. “Those shoes are hidden,” Hillman told the reporter. “They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life.”

And that’s only the beginning.

According to the Daily News, Hillman isn’t homeless at all. He actually has an apartment in the Bronx that is paid for using rent vouchers, military veteran benefits and Social Security. Hillman claims that he only uses it to sleep and spends the majority of his time on the street.

Family members confirm that Hillman was diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar, so it isn’t surprising that he prefers life on the streets. Plenty of evidence of mental disorders among the homeless is available out there. And the fact that Hillman is an Army veteran only compounds this fact.

Of course, nothing is more telling than what Hillman himself has to say about it.

“Being on the street… was my choice,” he explains. “I’m just out here doing what I’m doing because that’s how I know how to do it.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Posted on December 10, 2012, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Homeless by choice may be the wave of the future. I’m amazed by the number of people I’ve talked to that have considered becoming homeless as way of getting away from the complexities life and their own problems…

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