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Portland councilors vote in favor of competing referendum on homeless shelter

The citizen's initiative includes a 50-bed limit for new shelters, with the goal of forcing the city to build several smaller shelters.

PORTLAND, Maine — City councilors in Portland voted to pass a competing ballot measure to a citizen's imitative seeking to block the city's proposed homeless shelter in Riverton Monday night.

The citizen's initiative set to go before voters in November includes a 50-bed limit for new shelters, with the goal of forcing the city to build several smaller shelters in different locations.

Councilors ultimately voted 5-3 in favor of a competing referendum that seeks to limit the total bed capacity to 300 beds in a one-mile radius and be at least 1,000 feet apart, in favor of the construction of a single shelter.

Despite a lot of public comment saying the competing measure would only confuse voters and negatively influence a true democratic outcome, proponents urged passage.

"My motivation is to put forward something that is going to allow us to do our best to provide stability and security for people experiencing homelessness in our community, to do it in a timely manner and to handle this situation," councilor Belinda Ray who proposed the competing measure said.

The issue is supposed to go to voters in November, but councilors voted to postpone a decision on a final election date. 

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