Blind woman faces eviction from Indiana home over bureaucratic mistake

October 30, 2013 (CEDAR LAKE, Ind.)

It's a small two bedroom, one bath house just down the street from Cedar Lake. Dolores Pittman has lived in the home since 1958, but the blind 67-year-old is about to be evicted.

"My income with a pension and social security is $1,000. Tell me where I'm going to find a place to rent," said Pittman.

An infection caused Pittman to lose her sight and her job several years ago. She thought she would spend the rest of her life here, but Pittman is now caught in the middle of a convoluted land sale that goes back decades. Pittman's family bought the house from a church that owned the property underneath the home and property around it. The family paid taxes on the house and rent for the land.

"Back then you were able to have a house on a piece of property owned by somebody else and that is how this whole thing got snafued," said John Petalas, treasurer, Lake County, Indiana.

In the 1970s, Pittman was told the land was sold to the town of Cedar Lake, so, for years she paid $10 a month in rent for the property underneath her house.

"Every time I asked the town, they said they owned the property, continued to pay rent," said Pittman.

But the Lake County treasurer says that wasn't true. Records show while the church sold off most of its land to the town, it still owned Pittman's tiny parcel and stopped paying taxes on it. Because of that, the property was sold for a song in a tax sale.

"For some reason nobody told this lady and or anybody else the land was on a tax sale, consequently the man who bought it only paid $43 for land," said Petalas.

Clayton Pullins bought the land. He is taking Pittman to court to evict her.

"Now I have to pay Pullins $300 a month in rent," said Pittman.

ABC7 Eyewitness News was unable to reach the new owner. Dolores Pittman has not been given a date to get out, but she says it will likely be before Christmas. She will have to pack up 55 years of belongings.

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