The executive director of public housing projects in Danville, Va., has proposed paying teenage girls about $250 a year if they don't get pregnant.

"Teen pregnancy in the public housing developments, in low-income households, is . . . the most serious problem we face," said Alvin Steingold, of the Development and Housing Authority in Danville, which is in southern Virginia.

"The costs to society are . . . just tremendous, and I want to do something about it in the area where I have some influence and that is in the 619 units of public housing we own."

Steingold said the program would cost about $50,000 a year for 200 girls.

By comparison, the cost for 200 mothers who receive welfare payments for their infants is about $620,000 a year, he said.

"We're not expecting that anybody's going to refrain from sex by doing this," Steingold said. "What we do expect is that it's going to promote the use of condoms and other methods of safe sex."

City Manager Charles F. Church said the city doesn't have the money for such a program and already has other programs to discourage teenage pregnancy.

"It would not be my first strategy," Churchsaid.

H. Phillip Smith, chairman of the housing authority's board of commissioners, was skeptical. "I'm not sure if it's a viable idea," he said.