The Rockville City Council has voted to make substantially more money for home improvements available to homeowners in the city.

The council moved unanimously to place $222,000 -- initially reserved for the use of landlords -- in a program to assist homeowners.

The money, from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, originally was intended to pay for rehabilitation of multiple housing units.

But Douglas F. Horne, director of Rockville's Department of Development and Housing Assistance, said the city was unable to persuade landlords to make use of the federal funds.

Since 1975, when Rockville began an improvement program for single-family houses, 217 households have received a total of $726,000, Horne said. Homeowners have signed another 59 contracts since last July 1.

The $222,000 will be added to the $44,000 remaining in the program's budget. Under the plan, a family may receive a grant of as much as $6,000, or a $7,500 loan at reduced interest, to pay for home repairs.

In another effort to spruce up Rockville's neighborhoods, the council decided to initiate a Community Enhancement and Exterior Maintenance program.

In that project, homeowners whose annual incomes are less than $22,000 would be eligible to receive free exterior paint for their houses.

Another part of the enhancement program is to rid Rockville of derelict automobiles, abandoned there at the rate of 200 to 300 each year. Target neighborhoods for this effort are Croydon Park, Hungerford, Twinbrook and Twinbrook Forest.

In other council business, Larry Black, city manager, announced an agreement with Metro to keep open pedestrian access from Rockville Pike into Lincoln Park, until the Frederick Avenue overpass is completed.