The Portland City Council agreed Monday to move forward with an agreement with Developers Collaborative to build a 200-bed homeless services center at 654 Riverside St.

The agreement will pay Developers Collaborative $250,000 to continue its work designing the project, developing a budget and obtaining financial approvals.

Advocates who are in favor of smaller shelters scattered around the city instead of the large center in Riverton urged councilors Monday to postpone or even abandon the agreement until November, when voters are likely to weigh in on a citizens initiative that would cap new homeless shelters in the city at 50 beds.

“The citizens initiative will be held later this year, and that will tell you clearly what the will of the people is,” said Carolyn Silvius, a member of the Smaller Shelters Portland group.

Justin Beth said it was critical for voters to have their say and spending $250,000 on a project that “could be opposed at the ballot box is a huge problem for the City Council.”

“We have made a selection and we need to go forward,” said Councilor Nick Mavodones, who, along with Councilors Mark Dion, Belinda Ray, Spencer Thibodeau, Tae Cong and Mayor Kate Snyder, voted to approve the second letter of agreement with Developers Collaborative.

Ray said by delaying the replacement of the 30-year-old Oxford Street Shelter, “it means there are more people are spending nights without adequate shelter and without access to the services that will place them in permanent housing.”

Benjamin Strick, a social worker with Spurwink, said smaller shelters would be “insufficient” to meet the need in the city. In June, the Oxford Street Shelter was averaging 49 individuals nightly and another 120 in hotels.

A Riverton neighborhood meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 26, and the Planning Board is scheduled to have a workshop on the homeless services center project at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27.

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