RICHMOND -- The Virginia Housing Development Authority has voted to provide more than $11 million for three housing programs from its recently established Virginia Housing Fund, a spokesman for the agency says.

''We're very excited to have the projects off and running and hope it will create more interest,'' said Steve Calos, a spokesman for the agency.

The agency said this week that it had received 148 applications requesting $173 million in housing loans. The applications came from a variety of public housing groups.

The $11.4 million in allocations from the $45 million Virginia Housing Fund will support a statewide housing program for the mentally disabled, a statewide home purchase program for low-income people, and a shelter for victims of domestic violence in the Fredericksburg area.

The large number of applications ''supports the point we've been making all along -- the $45 million is a large figure, but it's just a drop in the bucket compared to Virginia's housing needs,'' Calos said.

The housing board made the awards two weeks after the deadline for submitting applications for the first round of funding from the special housing fund.

Nearly half of the housing fund's money -- about $20 million -- will be provided to those seeking low-cost loans during the initial round of funding.

The applications are under review by Virginia Housing's top managers, who will make additional award recommendations to the commissioners at future monthly board meetings.

Virginia Housing's commissioners approved $10 million for a program to provide interim mortgage financing for group homes and apartments around the state that will house about 1,000 people served by the state Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

The new home ownership program that the board approved will use $1.3 million from the Virginia Housing Fund plus funds from a Virginia Housing bond issue to provide 30-year mortgage loans with 5 percent interest rates to poor families and to families moving into urban neighborhoods that are being redeveloped.

It is estimated that this program, which will be operated in conjunction with various municipalities and redevelopment and housing authorities, will serve 80 families.

Virginia Housing's commissioners also endorsed a mortgage loan of $85,000 to the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence for a shelter for battered spouses and children from Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford.

The loan will enable the RCDV to move from leased facilities in Fredericksburg to a soon-to-be constructed facility on U.S. 1 in Stafford.

Virginia Housing was established in 1972 to encourage the investment of private capital from throughout the nation in affordable housing, which is then sold or rented to low- and moderate-income Virginia families