The article {Metro, July 22} on the Central American immigrants who are camping out in Mount Pleasant's alleys and abandoned garages and houses depicted the life style of the homeless Salvadorans with compassion and insight. This is a complex problem involving foreign policy and other issues that cannot be easily solved. There are, however, things that can be done to improve the condition of the neighborhood these people have chosen as their makeshift home.

For example, the city has neglected to enforce housing codes in the area. Nine homeless individuals were killed in a major house fire a year and a half ago; they were living illegally in a cramped basement apartment. Now, only a few doors away from where the fire occurred, half of a large duplex serves as the primary campsite for the homeless who were the subject of The Post's story.

This property has been in an unsafe and condemned condition for more than a decade, yet people reside there in public view, without apparent concern for eviction or other legal steps. They continue to light open fires in the structure and on the grounds, which have gotten out of control and forced middle-of-the-night evacuations of nearby residents. In spite of regular reports to the proper city officials, the problems remain and in fact have become more severe.

It is common for residents and visitors to our neighborhood to step in or walk past human fecal matter on sidewalks, curbs and private property. It is common to see men urinating openly in public. It is also common to be met at one's front door by someone who has passed out from too much alcohol, or to be threatened by a knife or a machete after having asked a group to leave one's yard and stop using it as a toilet.

In an attempt to improve the appearance of the area, several residents requested city officials more than a year ago to clean the sidewalks, gutters and alleys of the overflow of beer cans, liquor bottles and other trash and to plant grass, which we volunteered to care for, in the sidewalk tree boxes. We hoped these kinds of improvements would create a positive image and that if the streets looked clean and cared for, perhaps people would be less likely to litter. The city did not comply with our request, and last summer the residents cleaned the street on weekends. We're trying to do our best, but it's more than we can handle alone.

We hope that the difficult problems of the homeless, validly depicted in The Post's article, do not serve as a mask for avoiding the other serious problems of the area, for which concrete and achievable remedies exist. Recent meetings with the Office of Community Services have given us some hope that the city will respond to the community's needs.

We don't expect the District to solve the complex immigration issues that have brought these refugees to Washington, but we do expect city officials to use their authority in matters of public health and safety, housing code enforcement, trash removal and social services coordination to see that neither we nor our homeless neighbors have to live like this. TY CULLEN Washington