*17 Nov. 2, 1983: D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics approves circulation of initiative requiring the District to provide "adequate and accessible shelter" for homeless people who request it. Over the next year, the petition gathers a record 32,000 signatures.
*Oct. 11, 1984: D.C. government files suit to block referendum, saying construction of new shelters could cost the city more than $60 million. Suit points to April ruling by D.C. Court of Appeals that voter initiatives may not require appropriation of funds, a function reserved for the City Council.
*Oct. 22-24: D.C. officials seek preliminary restraining order from D.C. Superior Court Judge Richard S. Salzman to prevent Initiative 17, as it is now known, from appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot. Salzman predicts the initiative will be struck down by higher court, but refuses to block it.
*Oct. 26-29: Superior Court Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio hears arguments by city officials, but lets Salzman's ruling stand.
*Nov. 6: Initiative 17 passes by a 3-to-1 margin.
*Jan. 4, 1985: Arguments over validity of referendum begin before Superior Court Judge Annice M. Wagner.
*July 22, 1985: In a 29-page decision, Wagner strikes down the initiative because it assumes "the power to appropriate funds, a power not conferred upon the electorate."
*May 20, 1986: The day after national broadcast of a TV-movie dramatizing the shelter movement in the District, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel reverses Wagner ruling, saying there is "no legislative intent to exclude this type of initiative . . . per se."