In Stanton Park NE, where a resident of a shelter for homeless men was arrested this month for the brutal slaying of an elderly man, a neighborhood group will hold a bake sale next week to raise money to seek an injunction to close the shelter.

In Columbia Heights, neighborhood groups used a zoning technicality to evict the Coalition for the Homeless from its Sherman Avenue NW headquarters.

In Anacostia, even a city plan to move trailers for 144 homeless men onto the isolated grounds of St. Elizabeth's Hospital has come under attack by nearby Congress Heights residents.

Across the city, residents are growing weary of the continuing homeless problem and becoming more aggresive in battling the presence of shelters in their neighborhood, say some civic leaders and advocates for the homeless.

"The wave of interest {in homelessness} is passing," said Ellen Rocks, who runs the House of Ruth shelter for 200 homeless women. "People no longer feel the urgent need to do something about it. A lot of government dollars have been thrown at it, but it's not getting any better. So people look for something easier to fix."

In two weeks, the D.C. Council will vote on a bill to modify Initiative 17, passed by city voters in 1984. The initiative guarantees emergency shelter to anyone who asks for it. The proposal would limit the amount the city could spend on shelters each year and limit how long people could stay in one.

Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who favors the change, said nobody complained 18 months ago when the city put a shelter into his Southwest neighborhood.

"But overnight the crime rate went rampant," he said. "People's houses started getting broken in. It's easy to start losing sympathy when those situations start to happen."

The District has been under a Superior Court order since early last year to expand its shelter system. But Wilson said there is no neighborhood in the city that will accept a shelter without a battle.

He said he thinks most city residents still feel compassion for the homeless, but the financial burden has grown too great. That's why he is backing the new bill.

"That was the hardest vote I have ever taken in my life. Afterward, I didn't sleep well for a couple of days."

Mitch Snyder, an advocate for the homeless, said the public's attitude toward the homeless has changed in some other cities, but not in Washington, where he said Initiative 17 still receives wide support.

City officials, not the public, have turned against the homeless, Snyder said. He also said the D.C. Council has no legal right to change the initiative, which won the approval of 72 percent of D.C. voters.

But some neighborhood leaders say they sense considerable support for changing Initiative 17.

Anacostia Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Albert Pearsall said that at every neighborhood meeting he attends, when the subject turns to Initiative 17 or Snyder, people become angry.

"People are upset Snyder has take advantage of the natural tendency of blacks to look out for the downtrodden and the disadvantaged," he said.

Jim Lawlor, who is leading the neighborhood battle to close the Pierce School shelter in Stanton Park, said many residents are resentful that their taxes are paying for some seemingly able-bodied men to live in that shelter free.

"Some of our senior citizens in the neighborhood can barely make it on their pension," he said, "but shelter residents can afford to walk around with $150 jogging suits and expensive designer sneakers."

Jack White, who heads the Coalition for the Homeless, which runs three city shelters, said the timing of the taxpayers' mood shift is ironic because city agencies have finally figured out how to deliver cost-effective programs. He blames the media for not getting the word out about the city's successes.

"Things are really working in the District," he said. "Why haven't we learned about it?"

Syder said people still want to help the homeless but are angry at the D.C. government for wasting money trying to solve the problem. If the council amends Initiative 17, he said, "It will punish the victims because the administrators and the politicians haven't been able to do the job properly."