Beneath the "SOLD" sign on the 12th Place NW row house is another sign, this one large and handwritten, announcing a special where "kiddies" can buy hot dogs, sodas, potato chips and peanuts.

On a nearby door is another handwritten poster, advertising pig's feet, fish and chicken for sale.

The five families who posted those signs are desperate. They are [WORD ILLEGIBLE], most of them large families earning less than $10,000 a year, and they are trying to buy the small rundown homes and remain in the neighborhood where they have lived anywhere fromfour to 39 years.

Each family must raise $500 by Friday and an additional $1,350 by April 10 in order to make the down payment on their homes. If they can't they will be evicted. The manager of the properties. Raymond Ruppert Jr., said he already has someone who wants to purchase the homes if the residents can't afford them.

The 12th Place tennants say that over the last year they have seen most of their neighbors leave the narrow one-block street of multi-colored brick row houses, built in the 1890s.

"When I first came here, this street was filled," said Sadie Goddard, who has lived at 2254 12th Pl. for four years. "Now, it's just about empty."

The vacant rundown houses, in the shadow of Cardozo High School between W Street and Florida Avenue NW, are selling from $18,500 to $20,000, Ruppert said. Homes that have undergone extensive renovations are selling for about $55,000, according to real estate agents involved in selling some of the homes.

Instead of leaving as so many of their neighbors have done, these five families have chosen to stay and fight.

Goddard said her house has no heat upstairs, but she still doesn't want to move.

"My kids like this neighborhood," said Goddard, who works in the kitchen at the National Lutheran Home and has eight children. "They like the schools.

They don't want me to move."

Maxine Ashford, 29, the mother of four, said one of the reasons she wants to remain on 12th Place, though her home need extensive repairs, is that she has done vounteer work for three years throughout the community and feels tied to it.

"I just don't want to move," Ashford said. "I want somewhere for my 12th Place receive some form of as a family educational assistant at the Parent Child Center on 14th Street NW, and she feels her life is on an upward swing.

"You know how sometimes you just have to reach a certain age before you really grow up?" Ashford asked. "Well, I had just found myself. That $500 will come from somewhere, even if I have to go out there and beg."

All but one of the five families on the 12th Place receive some form of public assistance. Their rents now range from $98 to $130 a month for their small two-bedroom and three-bedroom row houses.

The owners of the houses gave the tenants the opportunity to buy the homes for 318.500 before placing them on the market for sale and gave them 45 days to raise the money as provided under the rent control bill. For the residents of 12th Place, time is running out.

The things Ashford said she likes about her neighborhood -- its closeness to stores, downtown and her job -- also have apparently made the street popular with others who can afford to buy and rehabilitate the homes.

Twelfth Place NW "will be totally turned around," said Ann Lincoln of Panorama Real Estate. "They're selling to all sorts of owners, investors and speculators. And they're selling for the asking prices."

The 12th Place tenants' struggle has drawn the community closer together, though all the residents have not yet been evicted and many willingly left the community when renovation began.

One middle-aged man dropped by the bake sale Saturday and donated $2.75 but refused to accept a chicken dinner in exchange.

"No, no, I don't want your food. I just want to help," protested the man, who identified himself as "Springs from up the street." "I hope you all get your money. I'm with you all the way. You know they're tryin' to move all of us out of here."

One woman preparing the food accepted his donation with, "Ain't it the truth. Thank you."

What is happening on 12th Place is happening in other neighborhoods in Washington, and in other cities. Streets that only a few years ago were considered unsafe at night by persons who could afford to live elsewhere are now in the midst of rehabilitation. Dilapidated residences in riot-scarred neighborhoods often are in demand by former renters and suburbanites who want to rehabilitate and occupy the homes, or by speculators who try to cash in on the popularity of close-in communities.

And while reinvestment in neighborhoods that recently seemed on the verge of dying is something cities have been attempting for years, the upgrading also has spelled displacement for many longtime urban families.

"Now, instead of one-house-by-one-house displacement, you see whole blocks being bought up," said Frank Smith, acting chairman of the Adams Morgan Organization. "The city needs a special 'SWAT team' to offer loan counselling and rehabilitation assistance to offer tenants some help. They're going to have to expand home ownership opportunities or else people will run from one ghetto to another."

Smith recalled one Adams Morgan family who had originally been displaced from southwest, the site of massive urban renewal in the 1950s. Their next home was on Corcoran Street NW. When that street became involved in extensive rehabilitation, the family moved to Seaton Street in Adams Morgan. That home, too, was sold. Now, he said, the family is on Ninth street NW in the Shaw area.

In the case of the 12th Street tenants, Smith said some help has been offered, but all of it is contingent on the homeowners raising down payment money themselves.

The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development has promised that the tenants of 12th Place can get long-term, low interest loans to fix up their homes -- but that money is available after they buy their houses, Smith said.

Perpetual Federal Savings and Loan Association also has agreed to assist qualified tenants with 90 per cent mortgage loans, Smith said. But they still must raise down payment money first.

In other words, Smith said, "they're not even in the ball game until they can raise some money. You can't reasonably expect poor folk to come up with the money in that amount of time (45 days)."

Smith said that often when he approaches foundations and agencies in Washington asking for help for the families, he is asked, "You have a government of activities and ex-civil rights leaders. Why can't they help you?" He said it is hard to answer that because he also believes the city could do more.

"The burden of responsibility to provide low income housing is with the government, not community organizations and foundations, "Smith said. "All we can do is 'nickel-and-dime' and save a few people here and there, and that's not nearly enough."

D.C. City Council members David Clarke (D-Ward 1), whose ward includes 12th Place and who was at the home of one of the 12th Place tenants when a reporter visited the community recently, said he had been trying to help the families obtain financing. Clarke said the Council has approved a $1 million program to assist families in making down payments, but the program has not yet been approved by Congress.

The D.C. City Council recently gave preliminary approval to a bill that Council members say will slow speculative purchases in the city. Speculators who buy houses in the city, hold them for a short period of time and then sell them at inflated prices will find their profits taxed heavily if the treasure receives final approval.

The 12th Place tenants are hoping to duplicate last year's success of nine families on nearby Seaton Street NW. Smith and the Adams Morgan Organization also assisted those families, who fought for more than a year to get the right to purchase the homes they long had rented.

"Every once in a while you can win one," Smith said. "That victory then helps others, because then other people will fight, convinced they can win."

In the Seaton Street case the families were not offered a chance to purchase their homes when the owner decided to sell them. The families then took their case to court, and a judge upheld the provision of the city's rent control law that requires building owners who rent out single-family homes to offer them first to their tenants when reselling the homes.

The legal battle stretched the case out over a year, giving the Seaton Street tenants time to raise down payment money. Unfortunately, Smith said, the 12th Place tenants have little fund-raising time.

"If we get a lot of help from our friends, we can get the deposit money," Smith said. They raised $477.04 at a recent bake sale, almost enough for the deposit for one family. The Parent-Child Center is accepting donations for the families.