The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a bid yesterday by advocates for the District's homeless for an order blocking the federal government from closing a decrepit downtown Washington shelter for the homeless.

A three-judge appellate panel said the order was not needed because the government had already agreed Thursday to keep the vermin-infested shelter at 425 Second St. NW open past today's planned closing while it searches for alternative sites for a shelter in the city.

The private, nonprofit Community for Creative Non-Violence, which operates the 800-bed facility, had sought the order, fearing that the government would try to close the shelter without complying with an order by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey to produce other quarters for the 600 men and women who sleep nightly in the World War II-vintage building.

The appellate panel -- Chief Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III and Judges Patricia M. Wald and Robert H. Bork -- said that if the CCNV feels there is an "imminent danger" that the shelter is going to be closed "without provision of adequate alternatives," then it could ask Richey to enforce his order.

The CCNV has appealed Richey's ruling allowing the government to close the facility. The appellate judges said they would consider the appeal on an expedited basis next month.