The U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily blocked federal government plans yesterday to close a downtown shelter for the homeless operated by the Community for Creative Non-Violence.

Responding to a motion by the CCNV, Chief Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III and Judge Patricia M. Wald stayed a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Richey, allowing the shelter at Second and D streets NW to be closed after 5 p.m. today.

Richey said Tuesday that the government had provided adequate alternatives for people staying at the dilapidated downtown facility when a new 600-bed shelter for men was opened in Anacostia Park last week along with a new 60-bed shelter for women in the Shaw area.

But the two appellate court judges ordered the government to provide information by Monday on the "capacity of alternative facilities to house all present inhabitants" of the Second Street shelter. They said the government should also set a definite date on which it intends to close that shelter.

The Appeals Court said the Second Street shelter, which occupies a building owned by the federal government, must remain open at least until it rules on the CCNV motion.

On Tuesday night, according to court papers filed by CCNV, there were 478 men and 89 women sleeping at the Second Street shelter. On the same night, the Anacostia shelter had 330 men, according to the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless, which operates the facility.

More than a dozen agents and officials of the Federal Protective Service went unannounced to the shelter about 10 last night and conducted a count of persons staying there. John Jester, an FPS operations official, would not disclose the results of the count, saying that he was to report to the court.