Stranger Helps Evicted 90-Year-Old Veteran Buy Back Home in Time for Holidays

PHOTO: Johnnie Hodges Sr., 90, photographed with Greg Elwood last month on his front porch in Buffalo, New York after moving back into his home following eviction. Greg Elwood
Johnnie Hodges Sr., 90, photographed with Greg Elwood last month on his front porch in Buffalo, New York after moving back into his home following eviction.

A WWII Navy veteran who was evicted from his home will be spending the holidays in his house again thanks to a stranger who rallied the community to help him buy it back.

"I'm very happy to be back...and spend Christmas with my family in my home," Johnnie Hodges Sr., 90, of Buffalo, New York, told ABC News. There's nothing like being with your family. This is a beautiful home I have and it really is a pleasure to be here."

PHOTO: Flora Hodges died July 11, 2014 at the age of 85.Robin Hodges
Flora Hodges died July 11, 2014 at the age of 85.

Hodges' daughter, Robin Hodges, said both her parents lived in their house for almost 60 years but prior to her mother Flora's death on July 11, 2014, Hodges stopped making his monthly mortgage payments and faced eviction.

"I can't say he wasn’t able to make the payments," Robin said. "He was focused on taking care of my mother with Alzheimer's and he never told me [about the missed payments], he never told my brother."

On July 9, 2015, Robin said the bank officially evicted her dad for non-payment of his second mortgage.

PHOTO: Johnnie Hodges Sr. pictured with his wife Flora in an undated photo.Robin Hodges
Johnnie Hodges Sr. pictured with his wife Flora in an undated photo.

"He refused to leave," she said. "He told the police to put the handcuffs on him and they wouldn’t do it, so they called the paramedics."

Robin said her father was brought to a VA hospital in Buffalo for evaluation, where he was released later that day.

"As long as they didn't try to hurt him, just as long as my dad was OK I was fine," Robin said. "That’s his house. He just did not feel like he should leave. He's 90 years old. It's been his house for almost 60 years where he my mom and him had so many memories."

Prior to his eviction, an article about Hodges' ran in the local news, which was seen by a stranger named Greg Elwood of Williamsville, New York.

PHOTO: Elwood photographed with Robin Hodges and her youngest son, Jonathan.Greg Elwood
Elwood photographed with Robin Hodges and her youngest son, Jonathan.

Elwood, 41, who said he felt an emotional connection to the story, decided to start a crowdfunding page to get Hodges out of the temporary apartment he was living in and back into his home.

To his surprise, the donations reached over $110,000 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."

PHOTO: Mayor Byron Brown of the city of Buffalo welcomes Hodges back into his home.Greg Elwood
Mayor Byron Brown of the city of Buffalo welcomes Hodges back into his home.

Last month, Hodges and Robin met Elwood face-to-face on Hodges' front porch during a "Welcome Home" party thrown by locals.

"I can't say enough about Greg," Robin said. "From day one he's had a heart of gold. He just wanted to help and it touched so many people."

Robin said she, her father and her three children will be sharing the holidays with Elwood and his family.

As for Hodges, he said he is overjoyed to be back living in his house that he loves so much.

"I feel really good about the donations that everybody gave," Hodges said. "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."

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