On Monday, Henry and Bernell Bright moved into a "new" apartment across the street from their old one in the 100 block of Irvington Street SW.

Their apartment is not really new. But it has new electrical wiring, a new bathroom and kitchen, new carpeting and air conditioning.

"We're very excited," Bernell Bright said.

The Brights, 13-year residents of an apartment complex in the Washington Highlands neighborhood, are among the beneficiaries of an $18.5 million rehabilitation venture between the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and the Northern Virginia property development company of Edmondson & Gallagher.

Last week, Oak Park Apartments (formerly Belleview Apartments), a 43-year-old, 408-unit facility, was officially reopened as part of the city's program to provide low- and moderate-income residents with affordable housing.

"It's part of our effort to expand home ownership opportunities," said Debra Daniels, chief of the department's Office of Public Affairs.

Under the city's Land Acquisition for Housing Development Opportunities program, the city purchases the ground beneath a multifamily apartment facility while a property development company buys the apartments.

The city then leases the land back to the development company at a reduced rate, which subsidizes the interest rate.

In return, the developer promises to set aside 20 percent of the rehabilitated units (in the case of Oak Park, 80 units) for low-income residents whose rent will be subsidized by the city's Tenant Assistance Program.

The city also provided Edmondson & Gallagher with a $500,000 low-interest loan to augment its private financing.

"Without the city's involvement, we wouldn't have been able to do it," said Tom Gallagher, a partner in the firm. "The plan reduces the rent on an average of $80 per unit per month. You have to put together a combination of financing programs to get rents down."

A two-bedroom apartment at Oak Park rents for $585 per month.

Gallagher said four or five companies have tried to develop the complex over the years. Edmondson & Gallagher bought the mostly vacant property from a New York concern, and its officials then went to the city and applied for the land acquisition program.

At present, 90 of Oak Park's newly renovated units are occupied. The entire rehabilitation project is expected to be completed by December 1988, at an average cost of $25,000 per unit.

"About 40 percent of the new tenants are D.C. employes," Gallagher said. "Some police officers, fire department people, teachers -- moderate-income working people. The people who have historically found a hard time finding suitable housing in the District."

Said Daniels, "After crime, housing is the hottest topic in town in terms of concern. Ward 8 {where Oak Park is located} has a high number of low- to moderate-income people. The city put a lot of its effort into developing housing there, either through rehabilitation of existing housing or construction of new housing."

Daniels also cited some of her department's other rehabilitation projects, such as the Warner Apartments on 13th Street NW, a 44-unit building that opened Saturday, and the Jeffrey Gardens Apartments, a 54-unit facility on Seventh Street SE set to open next month.

Daniels said the city is trying to stimulate businesses to locate in the Oak Park Apartments area and that the Department of Housing and Community Development has plans for an office in Ward 8.