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When police showed up to evict 90-year-old Johnnie H. Hodges Sr. last week, the elderly World War II veteran refused to leave the place he’s called home fore over 60 years. Hodges told the Buffalo, N.Y. officers that they’d have to carry him out in handcuffs, but the refused to do things that way, so he was put on a stretcher instead.

Hodges, a former member of the U.S. Navy, owes more than $70,000 on the home where he raised a family and has lived for decades. He fell behind in the mortgage because of medical bills for his late wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

The bank claims that it attempted to help Hodges work out some kind of financial agreement, but didn’t hear back, and on Thursday (July 9), all of his belongings were packed into moving boxes.  “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 a rep for M&T Bank. “However, all offers of assistance were refused.”

Hodges was transported to Veteran Affairs Hospital where he his mental health was evaluated, and according to his daughter, he’s both physically and mentally strong.

But he also never told his daughter about his debt issue, until recently. She offered to cover the mortgage, though the court wouldn’t allow it. “My dad is the type of guy who doesn’t really say a lot,” said 62-year-old Robin Hodges. “Everything is good; even if it’s not good, he won’t tell you.”

Others have stepped forward to help him keep the house although none of the deals went through. One man said he would buy the more than 3,000 square-foot home and charge Hodges $1 a years to stay, but wanted to rent out the upstairs area. Hodges said no.

After his previous job at Buffalo Steel closed, Hodges accepted a lump sum amount. Then he worked as a school’s driver, but once he turned 85 he was told that he couldn’t drive anymore because of his health. “When my wife got sick, I had to spend money on medicines that the insurance didn’t cover. I was also ill for awhile,” he said.

Hodges’s daughter says he’s hopeful that things could turn around. “He just still believes that things are going to work out.”

Photo: Derek Gee/Buffalo News

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