The District government has met a Dec. 31 deadline for contracting to spend $8.8 million in federal housing funds, apparently eliminating the danger that the city would lose part of the money that had sat unspent for several years, city officials said yesterday.

"Since this money is obligated to specific projects, we are hopeful it will not be recaptured" by the federal government, said Marilyn Crawford, acting chief of public affairs for the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development threatened in July to reclaim the money, which was allocated between 1977 and 1982 but has not been spent for renovations at city-owned housing projects. HUD spokesman Gil Meza said yesterday the agency would not make any decisions on the funding until it reviews the city's quarterly report, which is due at the end of January.

"From what we have heard, we understand the city has aggressively worked toward commitment of the funds by the deadline," Meza said. If the spending plans and renovation contracts are found to be proper, the city would not lose any funds, he said.

D.C. housing director Madeline Petty told a City Council committee last month that inadequate staffing and complicated HUD procedures had led to delays in spending the money to renovate many of the 11,763 housing units managed by the department. Also, city officials cited several lawsuits filed by contractors that had blocked work at city projects.

Following HUD's warning, D.C. officials told that department that more than $4 million had been committed to renovations at the Lincoln Heights, Richardson and Kenilworth Courts complexes in far Northeast, and that $4 million has been obligated in recent months for a variety of smaller modernization jobs at 20 other city housing projects.

In recent weeks, Crawford said, about $835,000 in unspent funds has been committed to "change orders" that will add costs to previous contracts and will exhaust the full $8.8 million.