Lawyers for the Community for Creative Non-Violence yesterday asked a federal judge to prevent the Reagan administration from closing a downtown Washington shelter for the homeless July 10, posting eviction notices or "making any other changes in the status quo which would have the purpose or effect of encouraging shelter residents to leave."
"Keeping the shelter open could cause no irreparable injury" to the federal government, said CCNV attorney Florence Roisman, in her motion for a preliminary injunction. "They are making no contributions to the maintenance of the shelter. All the work is being done, all expense is being borne by CCNV."
U.S. District Judge Charles Richey is expected to consider CCNV's request in the next few days. Last week the Reagan administration announced it was closing the squalid 800-bed shelter at 425 Second St. NW "on or about July 10." The administration ordered CCNV -- a nationally known activist organization that occupies the federally owned building with the government's permission -- to vacate the facility, which likely will be razed.
Royce Lamberth, chief of the Civil Division for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said the government would oppose CCNV's motion, which is part of a lawsuit the group filed that is now pending before Richey. "The federal government is determined that shelter is going to be closed," he said. According to Lamberth officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are working on a plan with city officials to relocate shelter residents.
At an emergency hearing Saturday, a visibly irritated Judge Gerhard Gesell barred the government from posting a closure notice without Richey's consent. The notice, Gessell said "admittedly has no legal effect but . . . will disrupt the residents of the facility and may be misleading."
In the past few weeks as the partnership between the White House and CCNV leader Mitch Snyder has unraveled, legal maneuvering over the future of the 800-bed shelter has escalated.
Last week CCNV sued the administration in an attempt to force it to make certain renovations to the shelter President Reagan promised last November to turn into a "model" for the nation's homeless. Four days later the administration, in a plan approved by White House chief of staff Donald Regan, announced that the shelter would close next month and that the money that would have been spent on renovations-about $2.7 million-would be given to the District government for alternative housing.