WWII veteran buys his home back in time for holidays with stranger's help
The US Navy veteran never wanted to leave his house, but he was forcibly evicted after he could not make his loan payments.
A stranger rallied a community around a World War II veteran who was evicted from his home to help him buy it back.
Johnnie H. Hodges Sr., 90, lost his home of 60 years in Buffalo, New York after being behind in his mortgage payments for years.
The Buffalo News published a story about Mr. Hodges’s situation in July when authorities physically removed him from his home after a local bank foreclosed on the house.
According to the paper, Hodge missed making his monthly mortgage payments while caring for his wife, Flora, who was ill and passed away last year.
Since then, dozens of people have been moved to help, some offering money and others shelter.
Despite not knowing Hodges, businessman Greg Elwood of Williamsville, New York, stepped in and established a GoFundMe online account to raise funds for the Navy veteran. To Mr. Elwood's surprise, more than $110,000 was collected in five months.
"Our original goal was $50,000, that was the amount that Robin needed to purchase the home back," Elwood told ABC News. "It's just a wonderful feeling to know that he'll be back in that home to be able to celebrate the holidays with the family. He has a lot of memories in that home. It's very clear he was close with his late wife Flora and I just feel good knowing that he's at peace."
Hodges lived in a senior citizen complex in Cheektowaga after his eviction and was able to buy back his home last month.
"I'm very happy to be back ... and spend Christmas with my family in my home," Hodges told the station. “There's nothing like being with your family. This is a beautiful home I have and it really is a pleasure to be here."
Despite falling on hard times, Hodges said the outpouring kindness of the community has renewed his happiness.
"I feel really good about the donations that everybody gave," Hodges said, according to ABC News. "I'm always happy when I'm in my home. I walk around, sit on my porch when it’s a nice day and I enjoy the nice weather and my friends will come by ... there's no place like home."
A report released in 2014 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found there were about 50,000 homeless veterans in the United States. In January, The Christian Science Monitor reported New Orleans became the first major city to house all of its homeless veterans.