The poor and the elderly are often hardest hit when moderately priced apartments are converted to condominimums. Ordway residents Aida and Antonia Pico are both poor and elderly.
When the Pico sisters immigrated from Cuba in 1967, they worked as domestics and stayed in private homes. After a year they earned enough money to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
They were evicted almost 10 years later when their apartment building was being converted to a hotel. Finding a suitable apartment in their price range was difficult for the Pico sisters, who spoke only Spanish.
An efficiency was all they could find, so they stayed in cramped quarters for five months. On April 12, they moved into a one-bedroom apartment at the Ordway for $252 a month.
On the day they moved in, they heard a rumor that the Ordway was going to be converted to condomimiums. But since they had moved all their belongings into the building, it was too late to turn back.
Aida, 67, had suffered an accident that left her with a disc problem. Unable to work, her only income in her Social Security payment of $177.80 a month.
Antonia, 65, works part-time as a domestic. Her income is $185.70 a month.
Being forced to move again makes them feel cheated, disillusioned and sad, they said. Because Aida receives weekly treatment at Georgetown Hospital, the Picos wanted to remain in the District. After two months of searching they found an apartment on Connecticut Avenue.
The trauma of being uprooted is also hard on elderly, long-time Ordway residents like Jan and Adelaide Rozwadowski.
"It's very distressing," said Adelaide, 73, who with her 85-year-old husband, was the second tenant to move into the Ordway back in 1965. "I've become attached, even to the striped wallpaper. I thought I would finish here.
"You cannot find an apartment like this one. I like the situation here. We're acquatined with old friends, and it's like we're with family.
"We're not young," she said. "We must be in walking distance of stores, a bank, doctors and public transportation."
The Rozwadowskis said they found it impossible to locate an affordable apartment that fits their needs. At the end of this month they are moving to Erie, Pa., to live near their son.