Mayor Walter E. Washington yesterday granted a one-day moratorium on any action by the city against Martha C. Brown, the 60-year-old woman whose house the city has been trying to take possession of to make way for a redevelopment project in the Shaw urban renewal area.
Mrs. Brown's house, at 809 O St. NW. became a center of controversy last week after U.S. marshals presented Mrs. Brown with an eviction notice and removed all her belongings to the street. The city wants to raze the house, a white brick building, so it can redevelop the historic O Street Markeet area in Shaw.
The mayor's action came after a meeting in his office with members of the City-Wide Housing Coalition, a private group that contends that the $14,000 the city is offering to pay Mrs. Brown for the house is not adequate compensation. Mrs. Brown did not attend yesterday's session, with the mayor.
Lorenzo Jacobs, the city's housing administrator, said the mayor wanted to get a clarification on the legal aspects of the case. Another meeting between the mayor and the City-Wide Housing Coalition is scheduled for sometime today.
Asked what he expected to happen at today's meeting, Jacobs replied: 'I' would assume it depends to some extent on clarification of the legal issues."
Jacobs said he was not certain what those legal issues were except that there seems to be some confusion as to exactly who is representing Mrs. Brown in court.
The Brown case has become something of a cause celebre to city housing activists. "Martha Brown stuck to it (her house) because they aren't paying her enough," said a supporter yesterday. "These other people (who lived in houses near Mrs. Brown's took it (the city's offer) because they don't know what to do. They ran like rabbits. The government is the big ogre."
Despite the controversy. Mrs. Brown has acknowledged that she owns two other houses in the city and that her father, Alfred, 87, lives in a third house, which he owns.
In addition, in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court by M.J. Glover, a relocation counselor, it was revealed that Mrs. Brown was offered a fully renovated, four-bedroom house for $36.200 in the 1800 block of 9th Street, which she turned down.