Gay man sees tough homecoming in south ATL

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Non-violent gay Beltline lover Angel Poventud is also pretty good at this: Stirring up media attention for causes that he – and generally, most other progressives – believe in. This time, though, the cause hits particularly close to home for Poventud.

In fact, it is his home. The gay activist who has helped lesbian business owners recover from a robbery and supported occupiers of a city park has been struggling to turn his vision of a crumbling structure in Adair Park into the reality of his new home.

But in a larger scale, Poventud’s struggles with buying a dilapidated home in a struggling south Atlanta neighborhood hint at a larger problem facing the city as it hems and haws its way through an economic recovery. That bigger issue is what interested Creative Loafing. The newspaper featured Poventud’s story on its June 7 cover as a cautionary tale on how banks and city bureaucracy can be dream killers, even for a guy known for cycling through the city in a lime green dress.

Everything about the purchase seemed right. The still-shaky state of the real estate market in Southwest Atlanta made it possible for Poventud to buy a home on a large lot in a historic district, directly on the Beltline, for the bargain price of $14,000 — meaning he could theoretically own a home for less than he’s currently paying for his Midtown apartment each month. As a bonus, Poventud was doing something good for a neighborhood he’d always liked. Adair Park wasn’t hit quite as hard by mortgage fraud and the subsequent foreclosure crisis as adjacent neighborhoods like Pittsburgh, but it contains a lot of vacant homes that need to be purchased, fixed up, and reoccupied if the neighborhood is going to rebound. It was an investment in a vision and an investment in the future of Adair Park.

But a few months after the sale went through — with the first stages of work in full swing — code compliance officials issued a notice for a number of violations, several of which had been on file since before Poventud even bought the home. Neighbors came to his defense, and city councilman Michael Julian Bond intervened on his behalf. The department is off his case for now, but Poventud assumes it’s only a matter of time until they return. Currently, he’s dealing with stringent Urban Development Corporation guidelines that would require him to spend as much on historically accurate windows for his modest home as he spent on the entire house. And there won’t be money for windows of any kind if the bank decides loaning someone money to fix up a home in Southwest Atlanta presents too big a risk.

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