ORONO — The University of Maine System Board of Trustees on Wednesday gave the green light to a 580-bed Portland Commons affordable student housing residence hall project for the University of Southern Maine.

The $99.4 million project is one of several housing initiatives aimed at bringing nearly 1,000 residence hall beds to campuses in Portland, Presque Isle and Farmington by 2023.

USM President Glenn Cummings said the new housing addresses a major hurdle for students.

“The cost and scarcity of housing in Portland puts USM and Maine Law students in competition with area residents for places to live and creates a tremendous barrier to student success,” he said.

Trustees also approved $26.6 million for the Career and Student Success Center at USM that includes $19 million from a 2018 workforce development bond package that was authorized by voters.

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