Now that the Capitol City Inn is being demolished and the Pitts Motor Hotel is boarded up, Ceodtis Fulmore and his wife and four children might be able to forget the terrifying months they spent at both of the city's shelters for homeless families.

The Fulmores left the Capitol City Inn last October for a rent-subsidized private apartment on Brandywine Street SE, in Washington Highlands. Fulmore said he found the apartment, talked to the landlord and "stayed on top of social workers" until the move was a reality.

"It's nice and quiet here," Fulmore, a slight man who works as a security guard, said of their home. "It was terrifying at Capitol City. They allowed too many drug dealers on the premises. The kids would come tell me they saw drug activity take place. They were afraid someone would kick our door in."

The 300-room Capitol City Inn, which served as a shelter for seven years, is now rubble. The 50-room Pitts Motor Hotel, which was also home to the Ful- mores during its eight years as a shelter, is empty. The city moved the last families out in late August.

"This signals the end to excessive use of hotels and motels as shelters," said D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), who as chairman of the council's Committee on Human Services sponsored the legislation that requires the city to stop using hotels to house the homeless. The law requires that families be placed in apartment-style buildings.

"There will always be a need for temporary housing for families, but I will encourage the city to use preventive measures," said Crawford.

Families from both shelters were placed in public housing units, private apartments where rent will be subsidized by the federal government or in transitional housing programs. Some people were evicted because they were suspected drug users or were not seeking alternative housing.

Before the closings, the District government paid out nearly $40 million to owners of the Pitts Motor Hotel and Capitol City Inn to house and feed homeless families.

Today, the city continues to place some families in smaller hotels. About 170 families are living at the Braxton Hotel and the General Scott Inn on Rhode Island Avenue NW and at the Budget Motor Inn on New York Avenue NE, said Rae Parr-Moore, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Human Services.

"I'm not a druggie or anything," said Fulmore, a Vietnam veteran raised on a farm in North Carolina. "I was just never able to get a decent job. As expensive as things are in the District, you can't survive on the little money I make.

"We were one of the strong ones," Fulmore said of his family. "A lot of them went in {the shelters} not using drugs and left . . . hooked on them."

Fulmore and his wife work as security guards, but he figures that any unexpected financial problem could mean a setback that would return the family to a shelter.

The family lived at the Pitts for seven months after a fire destroyed their apartment. They left there, Fulmore said, after a social worker advised that they move into a one-bedroom apartment and wait until a larger unit became vacant. But the landlord declared the apartment overcrowded and evicted the family. The Fulmores then moved into the Capitol City Inn, where they lived for a year and four months before moving into their present apartment.

Fulmore said life at Capitol City Inn was almost unbearable. "Security was terrible and drugs were everywhere. It was a nightmare." On the other hand, he said, "It was clean and secure inside the Pitts and the food was pretty good. But a shelter is a shelter."

Bernice Muskelly, a social worker with the local Mental Health Association, expects that many of the same people who once lived in the Pitts and Capitol City will become homeless again.

Some drug-addicted single mothers from the Pitts were placed in apartments at Potomac Gardens, Muskelly said. That neighborhood has a well-known drug market.

A report issued by the Mental Health Association of the District criticized the Department of Human Service's handling of placement for families moved from Capitol City. (The organization is preparing a report on the closing of the Pitts.) The report noted that while "there was evidence that many families . . . had budgeting and money management problems . . . the effort to provide assistance with this problem was spotty at best."

The lack of follow-up counseling and assistance is a major concern, the report said.

Perhaps the only people who fared well in the era of large hotel-shelters were the owners.

Cornelius Pitts now hopes to obtain a liquor license and reopen a lounge in his hotel.

"I'm not sure of what I'll do exactly, but this is a one-purpose building; as such we will be renting rooms . . . by the day or week," said Pitts. His neighbors, who say they are savoring quiet on the block for the first time in years, are adamant in their opposition to the issuance of a liquor license.

Sadrudin Haji, owner of Capitol City Inn, said the cost to renovate his property was prohibitive and he is demolishing the hotel so he can sell the land.

As the demolition crew carts off the rubble, there is evidence that people tried desperately to turn the run-down hotel into something resembling a home. In one room with crumbling walls there is a doll on the floor and a two-foot artificial Christmas tree, still draped in gold and silver tinsel rope. Another room held an overturned potty chair, an empty bottle of vodka and a tattered Bible.