CEDAR LAKE | The upcoming holidays may bring only homelessness to Dolores Pittman.
The 67-year-old woman, who has been fighting to keep her house sold out from under her in a tax sale, received a letter this weekend from her attorney.
Pittman, who is blind, said she asked a friend to read her the bad news: Attorneys and a judge recently met and all agreed an eviction order is coming in the not-too-distant future.
"I've contacted everybody I know for help, and nobody (did)," she said Tuesday.
"I don't have any place to go. I don't know what to do," added Pittman, who has been unemployed since an infection stole her eyesight at age 38.
She said she lives on a meager pension and disability benefits with her brother and has resided 54 years in the small house, which is a stone's throw from the Cedar Lake Town Hall.
Clayton Pullins, of Chesterton, bought the land on which the house sits in a 2009 county commissioners tax sale and is pushing for the eviction. Neither he nor his attorney could be reached Tuesday for comment.
County officials have said there is nothing they can do either.
Pittman's family bought the house in 1958, knowing the land on which it was built belonged to a church group running a summer resort by the lake. Her family faithfully paid the taxes due on the small residence and rent to the church group for the land.
But county officials said the family never officially recorded their purchase of the house, an oversight that would spell disaster once the church group sold its resort holdings to the town of Cedar Lake in the 1970s.
The land went into a legal limbo.
The county thought the church group owned the small plot. Pittman thought the town of Cedar Lake owned it. She made rent payments for years to town officials, who accepted them. However, the town now contends it never owned the Pittman parcel and has returned the $1,408 she paid over the years.
In the midst of this 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.
Pullins bought the land, which is considered valuable because of its proximity to the lake.
Pittman said she never knew the sale had taken place because the county never notified her. County officials said they didn't have her name on the land's records.
Eviction proceedings began earlier this year. Her attorney attempted to declare the land sale invalid because of official blunders, but Pittman said it now appears she must get ready to move.
"I worked hard to pay for this house so when I got old and couldn't afford rent, I would have a place," Pittman said. "Now I need boxes and newspapers, although I can't afford to put my things in storage."
She said she has a recurring dream.
"I've not been sleeping. I have these nightmares. In one of them, I'm at some campground that's closed," she said. "I'm sleeping in a tent that has no floor. There is snow on the ground. I've got my cats around me and a kerosene heater, and I don't know if I'm going to die from the kerosene fumes or freeze to death."