Six residents of Edes House, a home for the indigent elderly in Georgetown, have been ordered to move out by the end of September. Directors of the home, who are closing the facility to clear the way for its sale, said an effort to find alternate housing has not been completed yet.

Several of the residents said they do not want to leave Edes House. One of them, Virgie Brown, 84, filed a lawsuit this week against the nonprofit corporation that runs the home and against John W. Gill, president of its board. The suit asks the D.C. Superior Court to block her eviction and the planned closing of the home at 2929 N St. NW.

Gill is marketing the property through his real estate firm, H.A. Gill & Son Realtors, which would receive a commission that could exceed $100,000 when the property is sold. The large house has been valued at as much as $1.8 million. Gill has been a member of the Edes board for 35 years.

The directors decided to close the house because they cannot find enough elderly women who meet requirements of the home's bequest and because the corporation is losing money, according to their attorney, Stephen David Keeffe.

Only two men and one woman are permanent residents of Edes House, Keeffe said, and three people are living there temporarily.

Three smaller houses in the same block also are owned by the Edes corporation and are being sold. Keeffe said sales contracts already have been signed for the three, but said he does not know the sales price.

Brown's lawsuit alleged that Gill and the corporation "have not made a good-faith effort to locate elderly and indigent individuals" to live in the house and that applications submitted by prospective residents "were not processed with a view toward allowing elderly and indigent individuals" to live in the home.

Gill or his brokerage firm have "already received substantial income from transactions involving" the sales of the other Georgetown houses that "were not in the best interests of Edes," the suit charged.

Keeffe said this week he had not read the lawsuit and declined comment. Brown is represented on a pro bono, or free, basis by Washington attorney Michael Nussbaum.

Plans for closing the home have proved controversial with operators of shelters and other residences for the poor and homeless, who say there are plenty of elderly women in need of the services the Edes House provides. Some Georgetown residents who oppose the closing have urged that the facility be used for people of any age who are in need if not enough elderly indigent individuals can be found.

The Edes directors agreed to delay selling the house for 90 days in response to complaints, but that period ends Sept. 30.

"If there is no contract on the property by the end of September," the directors said they "probably" will advertise the house for sale. The board has talked with potential buyers, including "some foundations," during the 90-day period, according to Keeffe.

The 18-room home was built in 1908 with a $100,000 legacy from Georgetown resident Margaret Edes, who specified that the facility must be a home for indigent widows. The directors said they began taking in elderly men and Georgetown University students when they were unable to find enough older women who met requirements of the Edes will.

They began asking the elderly residents to pay rent several years ago to help cover rising expenses. Some residents have paid as much as $800 a month, while others have given their Social Security income to the home.

Margaret Edes, who never married, was the daughter of a wealthy Maryland miller.

Gill and Keeffe met with the elderly residents last week to "generally discuss what arrangements can be made for their care," the attorney said. The residents have a "variety of choices" because "a lot of places would like to have them," he said.

For several months, the Edes directors have been discussing a possible merger of the Edes corporation with the Washington Home, a private, nonprofit facility that provides nursing and hospice care for 182 people.

If an agreement is reached, proceeds from the sale of the Georgetown property and a $400,000 investment portfolio would be turned over to the Washington Home to pay for care of the three permanent Edes residents, Keeffe said. Funds left over could be used for other needs at the Washington Home.

"We think that as long as we get {the money} into maintaining persons ... as Mrs. Edes intended," the directors believe they are on solid ground legally, Keeffe said. Because the Edes will specifies that the bequest be used to care for indigent widows, "we are going to have to consider" how the funds "could be used in the same manner at the Washington Home."

Washington Home officials could not be reached for comment.