Six Alexandria residents yesterday blocked a city proposal to house chronically mentally ill adults in their neighborhood by purchasing the house where the group would have lived.

"We bought it because we weren't sure that the City Council would turn down the special-use permit," said Richard V. W. Adams, who bought the house with his wife and two other couples for $132,000.

Mental health officials had asked the council on Saturday for a permit to use the house as a group home, but the council delayed action on the request.

Adams is president of the Longview Citizens Association, which opposed the permit request.

He said yesterday that purchasing the home -- at a price $4,000 higher than the city offered -- was the "cheapest way" to resolve the issue.

He and the neighbors contended their neighborhood was not a good one for the mentally ill residents and said the group home would have damaged the value of their property.

Judith Krasnow, the director of the city Mental Health Center, said she was disappointed the neighbors objected to the plan, and said city officials would look elsewhere for a site.

"It's unfortunate that the prejudice against mentally ill individuals still exists," Krasnow said.

"I thought this could happen," said Mayor Charles E. Beatley yesterday. "I can't say I blame them the residents . If they feel that strongly that they are willing to put up that kind of money, I think the challenge is on the city people to find another site."

Adams said he and his wife, Kathryn, D.A. and Mary Maupin, and Kenneth and Gail Gardner would use they house as an investment, possibly renting it.

The five-bedroom house at 2954 Viewpoint Rd. sits at the end of a cul-de-sac about a mile west of the King Street Metro station.

The city's contract expired at midnight Monday, and yesterday the three couples made their offer for the home.