A drive by business and civic leaders to raise "seed" money for low-cost housing in Howard County has reached nearly two-thirds of its $75,000 goal.

The funds will be used to help build a 50-unit apartment complex in Columbia. The complex, to be called Shalom Square, is a federally assisted apartment project for the elderly and will include one bedroom and efficiency units. Tenants will pay no more than 25 per cent of their incomes for rent plus utilities. Construction is expected to begin in March.

The fund drive has resulted in twice as many applicants as can be accommodated at the complex, including 85 applications that were received before the project was publicly announced, said Jeri Stollman Lipov, cordinator for the Committee of 100, the fund-raising grop.

Stollman-Lipov said the long waiting list for housing that won't be available until at least next fall demonstrates the need for more low-and moderate income housing in Howard County.

There is no low-cost housing for the elderly in Howard County, Stollman-Lipov said, although two other projects are under way: A 100-unit mid-rise apartment building is in the planning stages, and construction has just begun on a 106-unit garden apartment development, which will have some units for the elderly. Both are projects of private developers in Columbia.

Tere is no federally operated public housing in the county, although there are about 1,000 low-or moderate-income apartments and townhouses through other programs.There also is a waiting list of about 500 for the low-cost housing, most of which is in Columbia. However, all the housing is for persons other than the elderly.

The funds being raised by the Committe of 100, which includes more than 100 business, religious, civic and goverment leaders, will establish a Perpetual Revolving Fund to be used by the Coulmbia Interfaith Housing Corporation (CIHC).

A private, non-profit corporation, CIHC was founded in the earliest years of Columbia as a project of the city's religious community to build and manage housing for low and moderate-income families. It now operates a total of 300 townhouses on five sites in Columbia.

The Committe of 100's drive has raised $47,000 since Nov. 2 toward a revolving fund for CIHC, Stollman-Lipov said. That figure represents only cash in hand, she added.

"We have some pledges but we're really not trying to get pledges. This is an immediate need," she said.

The revolving fund will be used intially to pay start-up costs on Shalom Square, which will be built in Columbia's Long Reach Village.

Once the apartment complex is under way, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will reimburse CIHC for its expenses and the money will be returned to the revolving fund for future housing projects.

Shalom Square, which is expected to cost $1.3 million, will be built with a mortgage loan under HUD's Section 202 housing assistance program.