SUMTER, S.C. — Demolition, housing repairs and youth programs are just a few items on Sumter’s list of projects for 2023. The city just had its first reading of the budget for the Community Development Block Grant.
The Community Development Block Grant provides federal funding to cities like Sumter through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"I really like the fact that I can feel heard in my own community," resident Taylor Burrus feels knowing that residents’ feedback was used to determine how the city will allocate funding from the community development block grant. "It’s gratifying because I bring back whatever they say they want."
Development Director Clarence Gaines took feedback collected and presented a budget and list of projects to the city council in Tuesday night’s meeting.
The city will receive $308,419. The majority will go to housing repairs and administration. Another big emphasis is on youth programs.
"It’s well worth the investment because kids are our future," Gaines explained.
Gaines tells me grant money will be used to provide summer employment opportunities for about 65 kids, which Burrus explains is helpful based on her personal experience growing up with summer jobs.
"I didn’t feel as directionless as I would of if I didn’t go to work at some of these places and really feel it out," Burrus detailed.
Funding will also help with the Helping Youth Pursue Excellence (HYPE) program, led by Barney Gadson, who says that any grant money is helpful.
"Oh, it’s everything!" Director of the MH Newton Family Life Center Gadson shared.
The HYPE program gives children a safe place to go after school.
"We serve, right now through our network of programs, right around 400 kids everyday," Gadson told me. "We want to continue the work that we’ve started during the school year. We want to make sure that we continue that right on through the summer months so there’s no summer slide."
He wants to continue the program with whatever funding he can get.
"Every bit helps," Gadson added. "And it helps us to further the cause of making sure that children are being taken care of while their parents are at work. Because we all want parents working. It makes us all better."
Many of the parents that benefit from the program are single with multiple kids, according to Gadson.
"The cost of after school care or summer care is just unobtainable. And parents need to work," he added. "And what we try to provide for parents number one is a safe place for children to be while they’re at work."
This emphasis on youth in the area is a focus Burrus appreciates.
"I feel like instead of just listening to like the older people, like people my parents’ age and up, they're actually looking at people who are gonna be running the city to get their opinions," Burrus added.
To finalize the budget, the city council will host a second reading in early February. After that reading, Gaines says the city will be ready to start spending the money on projects.
"As soon as they approve it, we start spending money, because the way the CDBG funds work is the city spends the money first and then the government reimburses the city," Gaines explained. "So as they approve it, we can start spending money."