The last three permanent residents of Edes House, a Georgetown residence for the elderly indigent, can stay another month under an agreement between one of the residents and attorneys for the Edes directors.
Three others, who are not considered permanent residents by the directors, were told that they must leave this week, according to Stephen Daniel Keeffe, an Edes attorney. They were admitted as temporary residents, he said.
Edes directors plan to sell the house at 2929 N. St NW through H.A. Gill & Son Realtors, whose head, John W. Gill, is president of the Edes board. The board has been trying to close the house for more than a year, saying it cannot find enough elderly people to live there.
Earlier this summer, the six residents were told that they would have to leave by Sept. 30, which was the end of a 90-day period during which the 18-room house was taken off the market. Edes directors agreed to stop advertising the house for three months after complaints that they had not tried to find residents and that many women in Washington need homes.
Edes resident Virgie Brown, 84, filed suit last month in D.C. Superior Court in an effort to block her eviction and the plans to close the residence. She charged that the directors' search during the three-month period and earlier was not "a good-faith effort to locate elderly and indigent individuals."
The suit charged that the board decided "not to accept or process new applications from the elderly and indigent as part of a plan to close Edes and sell the facility, which has a value exceeding $1.5 million." Gill's firm could receive a commission of about $100,000 from the sale.
The lawsuit alleges that Gill or his brokerage firm have "already received substantial income from transactions involving other parcels" of property owned by the Edes corporation. The transactions "in which Gill or his brokerage firm had a personal interest were not in the best interests of Edes."
Brown's attorney, Michael Nussbaum, said he negotiated an agreement with Keeffe this week that will allow the three permanent residents to remain temporarily in the house. The lawsuit is still pending.
Keeffe, however, insisted that the house is "going to shut down" at the end of October.
Keeffe said he does not know where any of the six elderly residents will go. He said merger talks with the Washington Home, a private nonprofit facility that provides nursing and hospice care, have been broken off.
Edes directors had been discussing the possibility of turning over proceeds of the sale of the Georgetown home and a $400,000 investment portfolio to the Washington Home in return for the care of the three permanent Edes residents, he said.
The Edes house was built with a $100,000 legacy from Margaret Edes, a Georgetown resident who died in 1908. Her will specified that indigent widows who were Georgetown residents could live there free.
Several years ago, the directors began charging rent to help cover rising costs, with residents paying as much as they could. Some have paid up to $800 a month, while others have been paying an amount equal to their Social Security checks.
In recent years, the house has accepted widows from outside Georgetown, as well as elderly men and Georgetown University students.
Richard Hinds, a member of a committee formed by the Citizens Association of Georgetown to help find tenants for the Edes House, said members have argued against the closing but believe there is nothing else they can do to stop the action.
The Edes directors agreed to an earlier 90-day halt in sales efforts, which ended last summer, to give the association and the board time to look for elderly people who needed homes.
During those three months, Edes board members "made no effort to find anybody" to move in, Hinds said.
The citizens association contacted the House of Ruth, which operates several shelters for homeless women, "but I don't think their applications were seriously considered ... in large part because of the lack of funds," he said