A nonprofit corporation providing emergency care and counseling to pregnant women has asked the Falls Church City Council to endorse its application to the state for tax-exempt status.

Hope In Northern Virginia Inc., which opened a shelter downtown on Park Avenue last summer, is seeking the endorsement. Tax-exempt status is granted by the General Assembly.

While state tax laws do not require the council endorsement, "as a practical matter it's a good thing to have," said John Powell, the shelter's attorney.

Last year, some of the shelter's neighbors opposed the city's granting of a special-use permit for the house, which Hope Inc. bought for $135,000 in June. The home includes the organization's office space and three beds for clients who need emergency shelter.

Powell said tax-exempt status for Hope Inc. would alleviate an annual real estate tax burden of more than $1,400 on the house and lot. "We're facing hard times just like any other volunteer agency is," Powell said.

The center's staff is unpaid, as are the counselors, doctors, and lawyers who work there, said Libby Mueller, administrative director of Hope Inc. "Our clients run the gamut, from the married couple who are facing a financial burden with a pregnancy to an unmarried woman who needs emergency care," Mueller said.

In 1981, women aged 13 to 20 accounted for 60 percent of the center's 360 new clients, while 79 percent of the clients were single, separated or divorced, Mueller said.

The City Council is expected to consider the group's request at a Jan. 10 meeting