Lawyers for the Community for Creative Non-Violence asked a federal judge here yesterday to order limited immediate repairs on a shelter for the homeless in downtown Washington while efforts continue to persuade Congress and the courts to transform the dilapidated building into a "model" facility.
Peter Nickles, an attorney for CCNV, which operates the shelter at 425 Second St. NW, said the 800-bed facility, owned by the federal government, was in such poor repair that unless "immediate steps are taken to fix it for the winter there will be nothing the court can do" if it eventually decides that the shelter must be kept open.
He said the limited repairs might cost $100,000 to $200,000 -- far less than $2.7 million the federal government offered to spend or the $10 million renovation that CCNV says is necessary to redeem a promise last year by President Reagan.
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey did not comment on the new request, but stressed that he would rule according to the "very narrowly defined rules" of federal law.
Richey criticized Mayor Marion Barry, who has kept the city out of the dispute between CCNV and the federal government, saying Barry "makes pious statements about widows and orphans and the sick. "But when it comes to doing something, what does he do? Nothing. Nothing."
After a simmering dispute with the CCNV, the Department of Health and Human Services decided this summer to close the shelter on Aug. 31. The department said the building was "not fit for use" and that no one, including CCNV, was able to operate it properly. It said it would be better to shelter the homeless in smaller, more manageable facilities, and offered to help do so with the $2.7 million previously earmarked for renovations at the Second Street building.