A staff member at a downtown Washington shelter for homeless persons was stabbed last night during a dispute inside the facility, which is run by the Community for Creative Non-Violence, D.C. police reported.

The victim, identified as Eric R. Braxton, 27, was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he was listed last night in fair condition with a stab wound in the right arm and a deep laceration in the left.

Police said they arrested a suspect and charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the incident, which occurred about 8:30 p.m. in the shelter at 425 Second St. NW.

CCNV leader Mitch Snyder described the incident as the third or fourth of its kind at the shelter, which can house as many as 1,000 persons a night, since it opened last Jan. 15.

He said that a small number of persons whom he described as "very, very dangerous" are sometimes among the hundreds who pass through the shelter each day.

Snyder said he was told that Braxton was attacked by a man who had been involved in disputes at the shelter in the past and whom shelter personnel had sought in the past to turn away.

He said he did not know the precise nature of the dispute last night that police said preceded the stabbing.

Another staff member told a reporter last night that he had heard the sounds of fighting and arguing in a stairwell on the lower level of the building. On investigation, he said, he saw Braxton under attack by an assailant who wielded a knife.

Braxton was shouting "Stop," but the assailant responded, "No," according to the staff member. Other staff members also went to the area and came to Braxton's aid, Snyder said.

Police identified the man arrested as Michael Clay. They said they had no age or address for him, but that he appeared to be acquainted with Braxton.

The building where the incident occurred is scheduled to be transformed into a model shelter for homeless persons. The White House made a commitment to upgrade the facility in an agreement reached last November after Snyder had conducted a prolonged fast to draw attention to the plight of the homeless.

Snyder, who said he has been staying at the shelter for the past three weeks while helping to run it, expressed concern for security there.

He said renovation efforts have made windows and doors more secure, but complained that there have been instances in which rapid D.C. police assistance has been needed but not forthcoming.

He said he hoped to meet with police officials about the question. Last night Lt. Lester Suydan of the 1st District, in which the shelter is located, said he knew of no complaints from the CCNV about police response.

"The response tonight was within a couple of minutes," he said.