A 90-year-old World War II veteran was taken away from his longtime Humboldt Parkway home in an ambulance Thursday morning, after an almost two-hour standoff that began when a U.S. marshal and Buffalo police showed up to evict him.
Johnnie H. Hodges Sr. was taken to VA Western New York Health Care System for a mental health evaluation. Though he walked onto the front porch of his home under his own power, an ambulance crew and police lifted him from a porch chair to the gurney to be taken away.
“They're going to have to take me – I'm not leaving,” Hodges reportedly told Allen Knight Jr., a member of his extended family, who was on the porch when Hodges was put on the gurney.
Hodges looked around but said nothing as he was moved to the waiting ambulance.
After he left, a large crew from Extraordinary Properties, a Canandaigua-based company, carried cardboard boxes inside to begin removing property from the home Hodges had lived in for more than half a century, before it was foreclosed on by M&T Bank.
His daughter, Robin Hodges, said she had not expected it come to this, even though eviction procedures had originally been planned for last month.
Police, the marshal and the cleanout crew – along with representatives of the bank – had converged on the house at about 9:15 a.m.
“He called me with a panic,” Robin Hodges said. “They were determined to do this,” she said of the bank.
The elderly veteran – whose plight was outlined in a Buffalo News story last month – was determined to stand his ground, his daughter said. “He wants the police to put the handcuffs on him,” she said, before he eventually walked out onto the porch.
Hodges has said she didn't find out about her father's financial problems until after the fact, and then was rebuffed by the courts when she offered to take out a mortgage to cover his debts.
“We're trying to help out,” said Richard Saxby of Extraordinary Properties. “We don't like doing this.”
Saxby said he went inside to meet Johnnie Hodges after he arrived. “I told him, 'I'm here to help ya'.”
“No veteran should lose their house,” Saxby said.
The upstairs of the large, two-story home contains property left by a late aunt, according to Robin Hodges. Downstairs is 50 years' worth of things accumulated by her father and late mother.
The cleanout crew arrived in a box truck, which was later followed by two moving vans.
“They need an 18-wheeler, to be honest,” Robin Hodges said.
According to Saxby, the bank has paid for two months' worth of storage in four units, but the family will be responsible for the costs after that. The family will have full access to the property in storage, he said.
M&T Bank began foreclosure proceedings after Hodges fell behind on a second mortgage after his wife began suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He said he had to pay medical bills not covered by insurance.
By the time his daughter discovered his dilemma, it was too late. The bank took ownership in January 2014. Records show Hodges collective debt had reached more than $73,000 while he tried to live on Social Security.