CHICAGO - Housing authorities may have to settle for a $1 billion appropriation,from Congress under the HOME housing affordability bill, according to an official with the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Barbara Thompson, director of governmental affairs for the council, said the group is "hoping for $1 billion, but I wouldn't count on much more than that."

Last week the Senate passed its version of the appropriation bill, which allocated $1.5 billion to the HOME program in 1993. That bill must be reconciled with the House version, which gives the program only $600 million.

Ms. Thompson, who spoke at the council's 22nd annual conference here, said the bills should head to a conference committee soon.

Another bill, which would reauthorize the HOME program for 1993, is also on its way to a conference committee. Last week the Senate approved legislation that would partially lift a ban against the use of private-activity bonds by local and state governments in determining the federal government's funding match for the program. The bill would allow 10% of the value of state and local governments' multifamily housing bond issues to count toward the contributions they make to the program.

The HOME program requires the federal government to match contributions made by state and local governments to low-income rental and home-ownership programs.

The House version of the reauthorization bill would allow states and local governments to count the full value of both multifamily and mortgage bond issuances as part of their eligible contributions.

"The outlook for the enactment of a HOME bill is very positive as long as time stays on our side and the conference committee proceeds quickly," Ms. Thompson said.

Richard Burk, director of the program operations division at the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, who also spoke at the conference, said HUD forwarded proposed changes in HOME program regulations to the Office of Management and Budget four weeks ago for review. He said that if the changes are acceptable to the OMB, they would be published around the end of October.

Mr. Burk said some of the 27 proposed changes clarify previous regulations.

State housing agency officials said their top priority during the current congressional session is to get an extension on the mortgage revenue bond program, which expired June 30.

Aaron Gurwitz, vice president of fixed-income research at Goldman, Sachs & Co., urged the housing agencies to get whoever is elected President to include mortgage revenue bonds in his plan to revitalize the economy.

Mr. Gurwitz suggested that Congress should take action to make the bonds attractive to more buyers than individuals and mutual funds.

His suggestions included excluding the bonds from the alternative minimum tax, allowing banks to deduct the cost of carrying the bonds, and allowing the bonds to be used for second-time home buyers who meet certain income restrictions.

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