Directors of two Georgetown institutions that provide housing for indigent elderly and blind persons are preparing to sell their properties, saying they cannot find enough suitable residents to keep them going.

In each case, the real estate broker handling the sale is a member of the institution's board of directors, which made the decision to put the property on the market. Commissions on the deals could exceed $100,000.

The Henry and Annie Hurt Home for the Blind, 3050 R St. NW, and the Edes House, 2929 N St. NW, both Georgetown landmarks for decades, occupy property worth millions to developers. The asking price for the Hurt home is $3.275 million, while the Edes House is listed for $1.875 million.

Directors of both facilities said they decided to sell because they could not find enough people who wanted to live in the homes and who fit the terms of the homes' endowments. The Hurt endowment specifies that it must be used only to house the blind, according to a spokesman. Terms of the Edes trust said the home was to be used for indigent widows, but as the operators began having trouble finding residents, they took in elderly men, and about five years ago they began renting rooms to Georgetown students for $250 a month.

Some Georgetown residents say there may be sound reasons for making changes, but David Roffman, editor of The Georgetowner newspaper, said "we question the priorities" of boards that opt for big profits instead of finding other ways to help people in need.

In response to the complaints, the Edes House directors have agreed to delay selling while they attempt to find more residents. Four elderly tenants still live at the Edes House, but the remaining residents of the Hurt home have been moved elsewhere and the property remains on the market.

City officials and private shelter operators say there are potential residents for the homes among the city's growing homeless population. But shelter operators said attempts to place women in the Edes House have been unsuccessful.

Workers at the House of Ruth, the city's largest shelter for homeless women, said they sent applications in early April on behalf of 12 women they felt met Edes criteria, but have not received a reply. Four homeless women and several House of Ruth employes visited the Edes House in March. They were told that "the social skills and attitudes" of two of the applicants would make them unacceptable, but that the other two could apply, said Barry Goodinson, assistant director of community relations with House of Ruth.

"An indigent widow is a homeless woman. We've written letters to Edes to say we have plenty of indigent, homeless women, but we never got a reply," said Elizabeth Beck, a former employe of the Community for Creative Non-Violence, which operates homeless shelters. The Edes house "is a beautiful place. It's so important that people be given a dignified place to live." She said some men who use the CCNV shelter are blind and would fit the Hurt house admissions requirements.

Ann Baxter, director of Calvary shelter for women and chairwoman of the Women's Shelter Providers organization, said she "tried to get someone in Edes House but was rejected." Edes officials "didn't give us a clear answer" on the reason, she said.

The D.C. government, desperately short of emergency shelter, could pay the Edes and Hurt facilities if homeless families could be housed there, according to Ronald R. Collins, staff director of the City Council's Human Services Committee. Working poor families who need low-cost housing also could pay some rent. Both Edes and Hurt homes require residents to pay as much as they can.

The city is now housing families in the Capitol City Inn, where the tab is $1,470 per month per room, and in the Pitts Motor Hotel, which costs $1,320 a room per month. In contrast, most Edes House residents pay from $500 to $800 for room and board, according to Stephen D. Keeffe, an attorney for the Edes board of directors. Hurt residents pay as much as they can but are not covering the costs of housing and feeding them, a spokesman said.

Keeffe said the Edes directors will meet Wednesday to review applications and make decisions on them. He said he had reservations about whether the women would meet Edes requirements.

The sale of the Hurt house will be handled by Edward T. Dillon, who is a licensed broker and an American Security Bank employe. The 5 percent commission will go to American Security, a bank official said. The bank, which has managed the property and the nonprofit Hurt Home Corp. since 1923, will receive a $163,000 commission if the home is sold for the asking price.

The bank is entitled to the commission because it had managed the property for many years "without compensation," said Roger Conner, American Security's vice president for public relations. Conner acknowledged, however, that the management of the property is part of the bank's handling of the Hurt Corp., for which American Security is paid.

John Gill Sr., president of the Edes board, will handle the sale of the house if the directors decide to put it back on the market. Gill's company, H.A. Gill Realtors, would get from $54,000 to $108,000 if the property sells for the asking price and the company takes the customary 3 percent to 6 percent commission.

The Hurt home is a 32-room, three-story brick mansion across the street from Montrose Park, graced with shrubs and tall shade trees. Porches on each of the upper floors overlook a large lawn and gardens in the rear. A few blocks away, the four-story, red brick Edes House also has porches and gardens.

Both could be converted to "beautiful" condominium or cooperative buildings, said Justin Hinders, a Washington real estate broker and investor. "But it would be a terrible use in light of their former intended uses, and a great inequity," he added.

The Citizens Association of Georgetown opposes zoning variances that would be needed to convert both houses to apartments, said Kathy Graff, association president. "We don't want a change in the character, use and density of the neighborhood," she said. The association would like to see continued use of the buildings for charitable purposes or as single-family residences.

Both institutions existed long before the current zoning code was enacted and continued to operate with nonconforming-use permits. Buyers could also get these permits if they continued to use the structures as homes for people in need. John Gill said the Edes House has a license that would allow a new owner to convert the building to a bed-and-breakfast guest house.

"We think {the Edes House} can continue to operate as it has in the past," said Charles Poor, head of the citizens association committee formed to look for ways to keep the house open to the elderly. Georgetown residents "would help financially if they were sure the house would keep running," he said.

The Edes House has been off the market for nearly three months, the period the directors agreed to spend looking for additional residents. "We still have not been able to arrive at a solution," said Keeffe, the Edes attorney. "No one in this day and age wants to give up their home and move elsewhere as long as they're mobile," and then they need medical care, which the Edes House does not provide, he said.

The directors are looking for "persons who fit the profile" for residents specified by Margaret Edes, who left $100,000 to establish the home when she died in 1905. She wanted the home available to indigent widows "who found themselves in diminished circumstances," Keeffe said.

The institution is "a boarding house" where residents must pay, he said. "It's not the Zacchaeus soup kitchen," Keeffe added.

Some income from residents is necessary to keep the home operating because the endowment will not cover all the costs, he said.

The Hurt home was listed for sale last month. The number of residents has been dwindling since the early 1970s because the blind are more independent now than in the past, said Dillon.

Annie Hurt left $500,000 to establish a home for the blind before she died in 1916, and in 1923 the Hurt Corporation joined with the Aid Association for the Blind, which had a building but very little money, Dillon said. American Security Bank has managed the trust and property since 1923, with Dillon serving as property manager for the last 20 years. He and another bank official serve on the boards of both the Hurt home and the Aid foundation.

In the 1923 agreement, the Aid Association deeded its home to the Hurt corporation, which pays for the operation of the home while the Aid association is in charge of day-to-day management. The Hurt foundation added rooms to the original building and was to be reimbursed if the home was ever converted to a use other than caring for the blind, Dillon said.

Under this provision, the Hurt corporation probably will get between $250,000 and $300,000, he said. Under the terms of the original endowment, the money was to revert to the Hurt heirs if it was not used to house the blind, but the heirs have waived their claims, Dillon said.

After the Hurt corporation is paid, the remainder of the money from the sale would go to the Aid Association, which can use its money only for housing, education, training and running business for the blind, Dillon said. The Hurt corporation will use its funds to pay for the care of the 11 residents who were moved to other homes, and may also get help from the Aid Association in this task, Dillon said.