NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After nearly losing his life to COVID, an East Village man lost all of his belongings, coming home from the hospital to find building management had cleared out his apartment.
After being in the hospital and rehab for two months with COVID, Ryo Nagaoka couldn’t wait to be back home Wednesday, where he’s lived for more than two decades.
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“I turned the door with my key… Didn’t work. I was surprised,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
So when the super opened the door for him, there was no way to prepare for what was, or wasn’t, inside.
“I saw the whole empty room, except the piano was there,” Nagaoka said.
The piano and his pet turtle remained. Everything else had been cleared out while he fought for his life.
“Shocked and surprised. I was stunned,” he said.
Well-known realtor Barbara Corcoran, who reportedly owns the building with Alex Rodriguez, says as Nagaoka’s health deteriorated, so did the condition of his apartment, and a biotech crew was called in to clean it.
“Are you angry?” Layton asked.
“Not angry, I’m just stunned,” Nagaoka said.
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As time went on, Corcoran says adult protective services was called, but nobody could find the tenant from Apartment 14. She claims the crew was told to save whatever it could from his place.
But neighbors say management cleared the place out prematurely. Even his passport is gone.
“All day long, people have been bringing donations, cash. Everyone asked for a GoFundMe, so we put that together,” neighbor Sierra Zamarripa said.
It’s already raised $35,000. Fellow tenants spent the last two days bringing supplies, like bags of clothes, blankets and even a bed, up four flights of stairs.
“Radio, bunch of socks and underwear, of course food,” Nagaoka said.
“Do you feel lucky?” Layton asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Nagaoka said.
Lucky to have kind neighbors looking out for him, determined to make a humble man feel happy at home again.
Neighbors say next, they want to help Ryo find legal counsel and a job.
Management did spend the day making renovations to the apartment, and according to the GoFundMe page, Corcoran donated $12,000.
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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.