Welcome home celebration held for WWII veteran

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – 90-year-old Johnnie Hodges, Sr. is back in the Humboldt Parkway house he called home for more than half a century. Hodges was evicted in July with the house in foreclosure.

But, a perfect stranger, Greg Elwood, heard Hodges’ story and started a GoFundMe page to help. That raised $110,000 in donations from around the country.

“It means everything to me. I missed my home,” Hodges said Friday morning, before cutting a ribbon on his front porch during the welcome home celebration.

Hodges’ daughter was recently able to use almost $50,000 of the money collected through the donation campaign to buy her father’s house from HUD, which took ownership after the bank.

Hodges was forced out of his home after he fell behind on his bills while caring for his wife with Alzheimers. He ended up owing M&T Bank about $100,000 including the missed payments and fees and what was owed on his property in additional liens.

According to court documents, the bank had tried repeatedly to work with Hodges to keep him in his home, starting back in 2011,  pushing back deadlines and trying to find solutions. But the documents show Hodges and his family ignored the notices, failed to appear for mediation, and essentially refused the help that was offered.

Hodges says that’s not what happened. “They didn’t offer me anything along the way,” Hodges told News 4 on Friday.

Still, the man who set up the GoFundMe account to help Hodges says whatever happened with the bank makes no difference now. “At the end of the day, it was a person that was part of the Greatest Generation that fought for our country, and he lost his home. And I wanted to make sure that he got his home back, and so it didn’t really change anything for me,” Elwood said.

Hodges daughter now owns the house. She will live on the second floor of the home, while her father lives on the first.

Elwood told News 4 that the money raised beyond what was needed to buy the house back will now be used to fix it up.

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