The World Exchange Ltd., an international student exchange program, was identified by the wrong name in a story yesterday. (Published 7/7/87)

A shortage of families in the Washington area willing to host foreign students has forced one organization to drop Washington from its program and another to house most of its foreign students in other cities, according to student exchange officials.

"There is a greater demand for foreign students to come to the United States, and at the same time there seems to be less interest to host them," said Michael Knight, European liaison here for World Experience Ltd., a group that finds American homes for French high school students during the summer.

World Experience officials said they tried to place about 60 French students in Washington this summer but had to lodge most of them in other cities, including Philadelphia and Baltimore. Even the 12 World Experience students living with families in the D.C. area are not staying in the District, as they had hoped.

"We couldn't find anyone in the District willing to host a kid," said regional coordinator Melanie Goldammer.

Eurolangues, a private, New York-based exchange group, no longer offers foreign students the option of staying with families in the Washington area. "We had an incredibly difficult time looking for host families last year," said Raymond Sailly, the group's director.

Still, Washington is not the only trouble spot. Exchange coordinators across the nation said they are scrambling harder than ever to find hosts for students.

"It's a big problem," said Philip Pillsbury, director of the youth exchange staff of the U.S. Information Agency. "A study needs to be done to examine this new phenomenon."

Finding host families is an "industrywide problem," said Linda Reed, director of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, the industry's self-regulating group, which provides advice for host families. "We have to look into the methods currently being used to recruit families and maybe come up with something new."

Officials cited three factors as key causes for the shortage: rising costs of hosting foreign students, increases in two-worker families who face difficulties serving as hosts, and mounting competition for host families from an expanding number of exchange groups.

In Springfield, Goldammer and her husband Michael, who have two preschoolers, are lodging two French high school students at their home this summer even though they had just hosted a foreign student and were not planning to invite another this year. "We just could not find anyone {to act as host}, even in the surrounding area," Goldammer said.

"There was a time in this country when it was considered a privilege to host a foreign student," said Joe Lurie, executive vice president of Open Door Student Exchange and author of a guide for Americans studying abroad.

The exchange programs, which are designed to offer academic and cultural experiences for high school students, select families to serve as hosts for one month to one year. In return, American students are given opportunities to live with families in other countries.

A family that hosts a foreign student can deduct $50 a month in taxes, an amount described as insufficient by many coordinators. Many families who express interest in hosting students are dissuaded by high costs, amounting to as much as $400 a month, officials said.

"That $50 has been on the books since the 1960s," Lurie said. "If you consider what $50 is worth today, that tells you how little the U.S. government is doing to encourage exchanges."

The increase in the number of exchange groups looking for host families has been attributed to the International Exchange Initiative signed by President Reagan in 1982 to encourage student exchanges. Officials say that there are about 150 for-profit and not-for-profit exchange programs, including as many as 100,000 foreign students nationwide.

"Less-well-established organizations are going to have a more difficult time recruiting host families," Reed said.

Large, well-established organizations such as AFS International/Intercultural Program also have had difficulties. AFS officials said they could find only about 80 percent of the host families needed for the upcoming academic year.

"There has been a noticeable slowness in that area," said Beverly Caldwell, marketing consultant for AFS, a 40-year-old group that places students from 80 countries in about 3,000 communities nationwide.

Many families do not have the capacity to host foreign students; increasing numbers of households have two working parents or single parents, officials said.

Mary Jane and Rick Vizachero of Springfield, who hosted a 16-year-old French student last month, said they wanted to invite another student this month but could not because both of them are working and she is studying for a master's degree.

"We'll take a student in July or August next year . . . if I'm done with the degree then," Mary Jane Vizachero said.

Some organizations have begun seeking single people to act as hosts. Officials of the Cleveland-based Council of International Programs, an international exchange organization for professionals, said that about 30 percent of its hosts are single men or women without children, single parents, and racially mixed parents.

For example, a Catholic priest is hosting a visitor from Malawi, a small southeast African country. "If you can't afford to travel, this is a good way to bring the country to you," said the Rev. Joseph Kraker of Garfield, Ohio.

"The definition of what should be an ideal host family is changing," Pillsbury said.