A 60-year-old woman evicted from her home to make way for development of the O Street Market area refused to leave the building and yesterday with the help of friends and neighbors, moved her furniture back into the house.
Leaders among a group of about 100 neighbors and volunteers from private housing organizations said a bulldozer and truck arrived to raze the white brick building at 809 O St. NW. Neighbors and volunteers shouted and screamed in protest, the leaders said, and operators of the two vehicles left the scene within five minutes of their arrivals.
"I will sleep in my house tonight," declared Martha C. Brown, a retired D.C government nurse who owns the house and shares it with two brothers, a niece and an unrelated teen-age girl.
U.S. deputy marshals arrived at the house yesterday morning, served the eviction notice and set all the house hold belongings out on the curb.
Neighbors and volunteers from the Citywide Housing Coalition, Gray Panthers and Metro Coalition gradually assembled during the day. Late in the afternoon, they began returning the furniture to the house.
Mrs. Brown said she received the eviction notice last Friday and was told she had until July 30 to move.
Mrs. Brown said she also retained attorney Harry T. Alexander, a former D.C Superior Court judge, to seek a court order blocking the eviction.
"He said he'd take care of everything," Mrs. Brown said yesterday.
Officials of the housing department and a spokesman for U.S. District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., who authorized the eviction, said yesterday that no restraining order was requested or granted.
Alexander could not be reached for comment late yesterday.
The city has sought to acquire Mrs. Brown's property in an effort to assemble parcels of land to the west of the O Street Market for redevelopment.
Mrs. Brown said the city offered her $14,000 for the house and another $15,000 to purchase a new home.
Most of the other houses on Mrs. Brown's block have been torn down, and her home stands conspicuously in what is now an open field of weeds.
She said she has lived in her home since 1956. With her she said, are two brothers - Alfred, 55, a one-legged war veteran and diabetic, and Harry, 56, just released from a hospital after suffering a punctured lung and broken hip.
Also living in the housing are a niece, Martha Anne Brown, 26, and Frances Thompson, about 16.
"Urban renewal has pushed too many poor people around for too long," said Kathy Gannon of the city-wide Housing Coalition" . . . If the city government was really determined to help poor people, they'd be down here offering assistance. All they are about is the damned developers and making money."