A U.S. District Court judge temporarily stopped the D.C. government from closing down yesterday a temporary emergency shelter at 2850 Hartford St. SE that currently houses four families.

City officials had planned to move the families out of the shelter, which is operated by the Department of Human Services and costs about $300,000 a year to maintain, according to Assistant D.C. Corporation Counsel Lindsay Simmons.

Simmons told Judge Louis Oberdorfer that the city intended to relocate the families -- six adults and 15 children -- at two other emergency shelters that are available for destitute and homeless families.

Ilene J. Jacobs, an attorney representing the families, said there have been no vacancies recently at those shelters. She argued that the city had failed to properly notify the families or to gather public comment before they took action to shut down the 10-unit apartment complex.

Jacobs said during the hearing that the city contends it is shutting down the shelter because of poor conditions there. She said, however, that the families are comfortable with their living conditions.

Oberdorfer yesterday issued an order that blocked any attempt to shut down the facility or to move the families until a further hearing is conducted in the federal court, possibly on Monday.