Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back home again in Indiana

Just before Christmas, 2013, 67-year-old Dolores Pittman, who is legally blind, had to vacate the Cedar Lake, Indiana home she'd lived in since childhood. A real estate speculator had bought it at a government auction of tax delinquent properties, paying just $43.

The case was complex. Her family owned the house but a church group owned the land under it. The church sold almost all its holdings, but not her parcel. The church stopped paying taxes on the lot and county officials put it up for sale, even though Pittman assumed the land had been transferred to the town and was paying town rent for it.

Dolores Pittman in her renovated home.

News of her plight brought donations that helped sustain her in an apartment for the past year. She worried her house would be ruined after being vacant so long, until volunteers from Holy Name Church in Cedar Lake, St. John the Evangelist Parish in St. John and St. Michael Parish in Schererville rushed to refurbish its roof, floors, and sagging kitchen and bathroom. 

"I hoped to be back by Christmas," Pittman said, "but when I stopped in December the kitchen and bathroom were still gutted. After her visit, she dreamed one night that she was home again, and there was even a Christmas tree.

The work was finished December 23. "I walked in and there was a Christmas tree my aunt bought me. There were even presents under it," she said.

The town of Cedar Lake bought the home from the real estate speculator for $66,000. Town fathers agreed to let Pittman reside there for the rest of her life.  Which is why many of the state's license plates say, "Back Home Again in Indiana."

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