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Barefoot Homeless Man Traced In New York

The homeless man in a photo that turned into a web hit last week has been tracked down in New York - and he is barefoot once again.

Little was known about Jeffrey Hillman when the Facebook image of a young policeman handing him a pair of boots on a chilly November night made headlines around the world.

The 54-year-old veteran was still nowhere to be seen as the plaudits rolled in and the TV cameras rolled up for NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo, following the apparent random act of kindness.

But on Sunday night The New York Times found Mr Hillman wandering the streets of Manhattan's Upper West Side with nothing on his blistered feet.

"I appreciate what the officer did, don't get me wrong," he told the newspaper. "I wish there were more people like him in the world."

He explained that he was grateful for the \$100 boots from the 24-year-old officer, but that it was too dangerous for him to wear them on the streets.

Mr Hillman also wondered what he had gained from the worldwide focus on his plight - apart from the boots. 

"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" he complained.

"This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie."

Originally from New Jersey, Mr Hillman ended up in New York about 10 years ago and has been on the move in the city ever since.

His brothers, Kirk and Alfred, did not realise the homeless man in one of the most talked about news stories of the past week was their estranged relative, until they were contacted by the New York Post.

"Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him," Alegra Hall, Kirk Hillman's daughter, told the newspaper.

"He knows that, he's well aware of that," she added.