D.C. City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), who owes the city about $450,000 in delinquent taxes and assessments on an apartment complex he owns in Southeast Washington, will have to repay the federal government as much as $25,000 in management fees his firm improperly claimed, according to a federal official.

Crawford has waged a running battle with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since the spring of 1980, when the department's regional inspector general issued an audit challenging $133,658 in federal funds that Crawford Edgewood Managers Inc. had spent on 14 housing projects in the District and Prince George's County.

Among the items challenged by the auditors was the expenditure of nearly $4,000 in federal housing repair funds for political and social events, including $1,250 for tickets to a Kennedys-King Democratic fund-raising dinner.

Since then, Crawford has whittled down the amount of federal funds in dispute through negotiations and by presenting documentation to justify some of the management fees he claimed.

I. Margaret White, manager of HUD's Washington area office, said yesterday that the amount of federal funds still in dispute totals about $25,000. She said that HUD has allowed the case to drag on too long and that she intends to resolve the matter within three weeks.

"The issue has grown whiskers," White said. "We are very close to resolving it."

Crawford confirmed earlier this week that the case was still open and said he was hopeful it would be resolved soon.

A real estate investor-manager and a former HUD official, Crawford has been plagued by financial problems in recent years in operating apartment buildings in the District.

The aging Southern Hills Apartment complex, which Crawford purchased in 1982 for about $150,000, has tax liens of about $150,000 and assessments of more than $300,000 for city services.

Jack Kerry, director of the Washington office of Winn Development Co., said this week he has been negotiating with Crawford and leaders of the Southern Hills tenant association to buy and rehabilitate the 255-unit complex at 300 Livingston Ter. SE. About 155 of those units are occupied.

The deal is contingent in part on HUD's approval of an application from Winn Development Co. for a federally insured loan totaling $9.5 million. White said yesterday that her office is preparing to issue a letter stating that the project is feasible -- the first step in obtaining the federal assistance.

Kerry said that his firm also plans to seek funds from the D.C. Housing Finance Agency to help finance the rehabilitation of the complex.