Residents sue over sale of their D.C. nursing home

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Residents of a historic Washington D.C. nursing home have filed a lawsuit protesting the highly-publicized sale of their facility to a prominent private school.

The Washington Home sold its property to the nearby Sidwell Friends school for $32.5 million last year. The sale quickly received backlash from Sidwell alumni for being too “hands-off” when it came to relocating residents of the 127-year-old nursing home.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, Washington Home residents claim the home's sale not only threatens the housing situation of its low-income and elderly residents, but was conducted illegally under the district's Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, or TOPA.

The act requires landlords attempting to sell a rental property to first give residents a chance to buy it, a provision put in place to protect vulnerable renters. The lawsuit, filed against the Washington Home and CEO Tim Cox, said residents never received an opportunity to purchase the facility.

Residents claim Washington Home officials denied rumors of the sale, which was finalized in June 2015 but not announced until September. The lawsuit also alleges a drop in care quality since the sale's announcement, including residents receiving improper medications.

Cox did not return McKnight's request for comment by press time Wednesday.

Norrinda Brown Hayat, director of the University of the District of Columbia's Housing & Consumer Law Clinic, which helped four of the remaining 50 Washington Home residents file the suit, told the Washington Post it's the first case she's seen where nursing home residents have attempted to buy their home under TOPA.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and asks the court to stop the sale until residents are officially given an offer or have been moved into new facilities.

Sidwell Friends cited plans to consolidate their two campuses into one when the sale was first made. The elite Quaker school counts Chelsea Clinton, scientist Bill Nye and President Obama's daughter Malia as alumni. Sasha Obama currently attends the school.