A proposal by the District government to move a mental health clinic into the first floor of the Roosevelt Hotel for Senior Citizens in Northwest Washington was overwhelmingly rejected yesterday by the hotel's tenant association.

The city's proposal was unveiled at the association's meeting Friday by Robert Pohlman, acting director of the city's housing agency, and Robert Washington, the city's mental health commissioner, said Jean Brunel, tenant association president.

The 39-to-1 vote against the plan brought cheers and applause from the elderly residents, several of whom use wheelchairs or walkers. City officials can override the vote.

Residents of the city-owned Roosevelt Hotel at 2101 16th St. NW feared the clinic would close them out of the building's library, lounge, lobby, half of the dining room and the meeting room where residents gathered yesterday.

Pohlman countered Brunel's contention that the residents would lose use of their common space, saying the program would be open as well to the Roosevelt's residents.

"We are talking about a geriatric outpatient and day care program," he said.

Pohlman said a city-run clinic at 1125 Spring Rd. NW needs temporary space for a year while the clinic is renovated.

One of the residents at the meeting said, however, "When you are as old as we, a year is a long time."

Washington, the mental health commissioner, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The city bought the Roosevelt in May from private owners when residents were unable to arrange financing to buy the building. Pohlman said that was done to keep thebuilding from going to a developer who had no interest in maintaining it as a residence for senior citizens. He said residents will again have a chance to buy the building.

"We are developing all the papers to offer the building for sale," he said. "The first right to purchase goes to the tenants."