CEDAR LAKE, Indiana — A blind woman evicted last year from her home of more than half a century is preparing to move back into the lakeside cottage after a northwestern Indiana town granted her its ownership for the rest of her life.
Dolores Pittman, 68, was evicted after the home sold last year in a tax sale that stemmed from a government tax-recording error. The house is near Cedar Lake, about 15 miles south of Gary.
Pittman said she hopes to be back home by Christmas, after repairs are made to the cottage. The home stood empty for a year after she moved to an apartment following her eviction.
"I want to thank everyone who sent me donations. I have survived this year because of them," she told The Times of Munster (http://bit.ly/1zZeIIo ).
Pittman's family moved into the cottage in 1958. She eventually purchased the house but not the surrounding land, which belonged to a church group that rented the cabins as part of a summer resort.
Pittman, who lost her eyesight to an infection three decades ago, survives on a meager disability benefit. The former librarian was unaware of a growing cloud over her home's ownership.
The church group, from which her family brought the house, eventually sold nearly all of its holdings to the Town of Cedar Lake, which turned most of that land into a park. Pittman assumed that the deal included her home, and she regularly made payments to the town — money she had previously paid to the church group.
Town officials accepted her payments, but for reasons still unclear, the church group kept Pittman's small lot out of the sale to the town and eventually stopped paying property taxes on that tract.
Lake County officials said they didn't know Pittman was living there. They apparently sent their tax sale notices stemming from the unpaid taxes to the previous owner, not Pittman, who was shocked to receive an eviction notice last year after a Porter County resident bought her home for $43 in the tax sale.
Cedar Lake's town council, however, voted last year to negotiate the lot's purchase and last week the town bought the house for $66,000, said town clerk-treasurer Amy Gross. The town has granted Pittman its ownership for the rest of her life, Gross said.
Pittman expects to be back home by Christmas following work by volunteers from Holy Name's St. Joseph Carpentry Ministry who are repairing its roof, flooring and will paint its interior once power and heat are restored.
Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com
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