Portland City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the early stages of developer Homer Williams' proposed 400-bed, $100 million homeless shelter on the Northwest industrial waterfront.
Williams' proposal has faced criticism from both the business lobby and homeless advocates. But on Monday, Williams announced some high-profile allies: Right 2 Dream Too co-founder Ibrahim Mubarak and Union Gospel Mission executive director Bill Russell.
"Russell and Mubarak will actually run [the shelter]," Williams told WW on Monday evening.
Mubarak is perhaps the city's most prominent champion of self-run homeless services. More than a decade ago, he founded the city's first authorized homeless camp, Dignity Village. He turned Right 2 Dream Too from a gravel lot in Chinatown into "a high-functioning commune run by those without housing."
UPDATE, 1:20 pm: Mubarak tells WW he hasn't agreed to anything.
"We are in discussions, but no agreement has been made," Mubarak says. "I'll be interested if it gets passed and the houseless community has at least 70 percent say in running the intake facility—with pay."
Mubarak and Williams have a somewhat complicated past: in 2013, Williams, along with his business partner Dike Dame, blocked Right 2 Dream Too's move to a city-owned parking lot located near their $49.5 million Marriott Hotel in the Pearl District.
But in a Portland Mercury article last month, Williams said meeting Mubarak was the was the spark for his decision to focus on helping the homeless.
"These people don't want to be there. Everyone thinks they're lazy, they're drug addicts. These people can be helped," Williams was quoted as saying in the Mercury article.
Williams and his supporters still have some hoops to jump through before the shelter becomes a possibility, starting with a City Council vote scheduled for Wednesday that will determine whether the shelter can be built on city-owned industrial lot Terminal 1.
"I think we have the votes," Williams said Monday.