A blind Indiana woman is facing eviction after the land under her house of 55 years was purchased for $43 without her knowledge, the Chicago Tribune reported.
While eviction papers are making their way through court, Delores Pittman, 67, is being charged $300 to remain in the house in Cedar Lake, roughly 50 miles east of Chicago.
“I want to know,” she told the newspaper through tears, “am I going to be in here on Christmas or am I going to be out?”
The dispute’s origins began in 1958, when Pittman’s parents began renting the home from a local church, a time she remembers vividly.
“It was four days before Christmas and my little brother was 4. And we moved in during a snowstorm, and the first thing I put up was a Christmas tree because it was important that Santa knew where to come,” said the former librarian. “It was security that we had a house. My mother said she just wanted a house that she knew she could die in.”
Eventually, the home – but not the land – was sold to her family, and the clan paid a $10 annual rental fee to Cedar Lake, which they believed had acquired the property from the church, Pittman said.
But the church continued to maintain that it owned the property and didn’t pay property taxes, thanks to its non-profit status. After a new law passed in 2005 revoked the status, the church began receiving tax bills, which it refused to pay.
The land was sold in a county commissioner sale in 2009, but neither the town nor the church bothered to tell Pittman, who continued to pay her annual rental fee to Cedar Lake.
Now, Pittman, who experienced vision problems for most of her adult life before losing her sight completely five years ago, has to find a new home. Her Social Security and pension checks, which yield her little more than $1,000 a month, don’t provide her with enough money to find a new home.
“If I had money, I’d just say to hell with it and go off someplace,” she said.