The family of a homeless man who a New York police officer helped in Times Square said they were shocked to see he was making headlines, but insisted he’s always welcome to come home and get off the streets.
A picture of the police officer went viral after a tourist from Arizona saw him putting a pair of new boots on the man’s feet. The New York Post reports
that the man, Jeffrey Hillman, has family in nearby Pennsylvania who said they hear from him once a year, and were shocked to see he was the shoeless vagrant in the photograph.
“The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year’s Day,” said Tish Hillman, the man’s sister-in-law. His brother, Kirk, was speechless when he saw the photograph.
The Hillmans are leaders at Greater Shiloh Church in Allentown, Pa., where Kirk Hillman is also a college professor. It’s a mystery how Jeffrey Hillman ended up shoeless on a sidewalk in New York.
They have another brother, Alfred, who is an educator in Lancaster, Texas, but Jeffrey bounced around New Jersey, western Pennsylvania and New York. His brothers noted he’s been indigent for years and has not had a job since the early 1980s.
Finally, in 1993, Jeffrey Hillman declared bankruptcy after numerous state tax liens and ended up living in homeless shelters in New York. A Hell’s Kitchen acquaintance said the man doesn’t usually sit in doorways, but he’s always moving.
Hillman’s family said he’s always welcome to come home.
“Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him,” said Alegra Hall, Kirk Hillman’s daughter, who is a producer in Maryland. “He knows that, he’s well aware of that.”
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