Rehabilitation is scheduled to begin soon on 44 apartments for low-income families in the Columbia Heights section of the 14th Street Community Development Area.

A $1.5 million contract has been signed for renovation of 19 buildings, many of which were once large single-family homes turned into rooming houses in later years. The renovations will include one efficiency apartment, 26 two-bedrooms, five three-bedrooms, eight four-bedrooms, and four five-bedrooms, according to the D.C. Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHCD).

The apartments are to be rented as scattered site public housing, and are expected to be completed by early 1979.

"These renovations will increase our supply of housing for low-income families under the public housing program," said Lorenzo W. Jacobs, director of DHCD.

"They also will complement the other renovation work and new construction of housing and public facilities in the 14th Street Community Development Area as part of our community development plan and program," Jacobs said. More than 1,200 housing units have already been completed or are currently being renovated by the housing department and private owners with low-interest DHCD loans.

The renovations will be done by a joint venture of the Volpe Construction Co. and Keith and Pickett, a local minority firm. They will be carried out with neighborhood development funds provided under the city's former urban renewal program. The buildings were acquired under that program in past years.

After the renovations are complete, the buildings will be sold to the housing department's Property Management Administration, using funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for purchase of scattered site public housing.

Because the units will be transferred in this way, the renovation funds will still be available for future renovation projects, according to the housing department.