Johnnie H. Hodges, a 90-year-old Navy veteran of World War II was evicted from his home after a two-hour standoff with the U.S. Marshals Service. The events that led up to his eviction are marked by missed opportunities and unfortunate outcomes.
Hodges lived in his Buffalo, New York, home for nearly 60 years with his wife. Around four years ago, Hodges’ wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and he spent most of his income caring for her. He had amassed a $73,000 debt to M&T Bank and defaulted on his mortgage.
In October 2011, Hodges was sent notice informing him that he had defaulted on his home loan, according to court documents. A meeting was scheduled between Hodges and the bank in May 2012 in an attempt to figure out how Hodges can keep his home. Reportedly, Hodges did not attend the meeting.
Court records viewed by Buffalo News show Hodges had been sent a notice for an upcoming sale in December 2013.
Unfortunately, Hodges did not respond or appeal, and the house was sold in foreclosure in January 2014. Upon the foreclosure, M&T became the owner, reports The Root.
Since then, the bank reportedly stalled Hodges’ eviction on three occasions. Hodges told the Buffalo News on June 24, a day he was expecting to be evicted, that he had faith.
“There’s a man upstairs saying everything is going to be all right,” Hodges said. The eviction was delayed.
A disabled veteran who sympathized with Hodges offered to buy his home from the bank and allow Hodges to stay in his home for only $1 a year. Reportedly, the buyer discussed renting out an apartment upstairs to help pay for the investment but the deal then fell apart.
Fundraisers and donations were held for Hodges, but when he realized the home would not be in his name, he no longer wanted to deal with the bank at all.
In the end, Hodges owed more than $100,000 to the bank in fees and missed payments on his home. He also owed tens of thousands in liens on the property.
On July 9, Hodges walked onto his porch and told an audience, “They’re going to have to take me — I’m not leaving.”
He told police to take him in handcuffs, but they would not. After two hours of negotiating, an ambulance crew and police officers lifted him from his porch chair and onto a stretcher away from his home of 60 years.
Buffalo News says Hodges was brought to a “mental health evaluation by VA Western New York Health Care System.”
Hodges’ daughter, Robin, says her father is healthy emotionally and physically. “His faculties are really good,” she said, reports The Washington Post.
Hodges is now living in a senior apartment and his daughter says he still believes everything will work out. The veteran who was offering to buy the home has also offered to house him in an apartment for free.