Help may be on the way for blind Cedar Lake tax sale victim

2013-10-30T15:00:00Z 2013-12-04T14:46:06Z Help may be on the way for blind Cedar Lake tax sale victimBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
October 30, 2013 3:00 pm  • 

CEDAR LAKE | The Center Township trustee is investigating whether his office can offer housing to a blind Cedar Lake woman expected to be evicted from her home of 54 years.

"We will get a hold of her and get her in as quickly as possible so we can start to see what we can do to help her out," Trustee Paul Bremer said Wednesday afternoon.

Bremer is one of 11 township trustees in Lake County charged with providing emergency assistance for families without financial resources.

Bremer's inquiry was part of an outpouring of concern Wednesday for 67-year-old Dolores Pittman, whose home was mistakenly sold out from under her in a county tax sale.

Pittman said she received offers of assistance from others after learning of her plight in a Wednesday article in The Times.

"It may be the miracle we were looking for," one friend of Pittman said.

Pittman said she doesn't know how much longer she will be able to stay in the house on 138th Avenue after her attorney informed her last weekend her efforts to reverse the erroneous tax sale will likely fail.

Bremer said Wednesday he wants Pittman to fill out an application for township assistance so he can act when necessary.

"We need to see what her income is. I'm sure its minimal," he said.

Pittman, a former librarian, said she has been unemployed and living on disability payments along with a small pension since an infection took her eyesight three decades ago.

A Porter County man bought the land on which the house sits in a 2009 Lake County Board of Commissioners tax sale for $43 and is pushing for the eviction. County officials have said there is nothing they can do for her officially.

Pittman's family bought the house in 1958, knowing it was built on land belonging to a church group running a summer resort by the lake. Her family paid the taxes due on the small residence and rent to the church group for the land -- but failed to officially record their home ownership.

That oversight became a problem once the church group sold most of its resort holdings to the town of Cedar Lake in the 1970s and abandoned the plot under her house.

Pittman thought the town owned the land and paid rent for years. The town now contends it never owned the Pittman parcel and has returned the money she paid.

In the confusion, no one paid taxes on the plot and the county placed it on the 2009 tax sale auction with thousands of other delinquent properties. But the county never notified Pittman of the tax sale listing because her name wasn't in the records.

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