A 90-year-old WWII Navy veteran has been evicted from the place he’s called home for the last 60 years in Buffalo, N.Y.
According to Military.com, Johnnie Hodges was carried out on a stretcher on Thursday after an almost two-hour standoff that began when a U.S. marshal and Buffalo police showed up to evict him. The veteran was transported for mental health evaluation by VA Western New York Health Care System.
"They're going to have to take me -- I'm not leaving," he reportedly told a family member who was at the home when Hodges was taken away.
Four years ago, Hodges defaulted on a loan handled by M&T Bank. He had spent most of his money caring for his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease, amassing $73,000 in debt. Several local residents tried to help, especially after reading of Hodges’ plight in The Buffalo News.
His daughter, Robin Hodges, set up an online fundraising campaign, raising $1,520 in just 17 days. The veteran, however, wanted the home to remain in his name – a situation that could not be after M&T foreclosed and took possession of the house.
"It's a sad day for everyone involved, because this outcome could have been avoided," C. Michael Zabel, vice president of corporate communications at M&T, said in a statement.
According to court documents, a meeting was set up in May 2012 between Hodges and the bank to figure out a way for the veteran keep his home, but Hodges never showed up. In December 2013, Hodges was sent a notice that his home would be sold at foreclosure, but he didn't appeal the decision. Then, last month, an anonymous veteran offered to buy the 3,200-square-foot home and have Hodges live there for $1 a year while the upstairs was rented. The idea did not appeal to Hodges and eventually the prospective buyer removed his offer.
"The bank has gone above and beyond here," Jonathan D. Schechter, an attorney representing Hodges, told the website.
Hodges’ daughter, however, thinks M&T could have done more to help her father.
"I know there's such a thing as debt forgiveness," she said. "I think this should have been forgiven."
In a statement, the bank stressed its offers to help Hodges.
"We've worked on this case for more than four years, involved local not-for-profit agencies and even worked with private citizens who were willing to arrange for him to stay in the house for free," said Zabel. "However, all offers of assistance were refused."