Crowd-sourc­ing a dream

An­gel Poven­tud hopes to re­vi­tal­ize Adair Park with his home as a com­mu­nity hub

GA Voice - - News - By Ryan Watkins rwatkins@the­gavoice.com

For An­gel Poven­tud, what be­gan as a home ren­o­va­tion project in Oc­to­ber 2011 has be­come a vi­sion for a full-blown com­mu­nity re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­fort in south­west At­lanta.

“I really be­lieved that I would be liv­ing in the house within six, at most nine, months,” Poven­tud says af­ter pro­vid­ing a tour of his on­go­ing project.

There are no walls or fix­tures. The floor is un­cov­ered and there are pieces of the house’s ex­te­rior sid­ing stacked through­out the house. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

But a new roof, a new in­te­rior frame, new win­dows and doors, new front porch, new pri­mary sup­port beam, new elec­tri­cal wiring, new cen­tral heat and air ducts, and many other com­pleted jobs show real progress on a house that once could have been con­demned.

“Mine was the worst house in the neigh­bor­hood,” Poven­tud says.

Af­ter pur­chas­ing the house for around $14,000, he en­vi­sioned the re­birth of an area hard hit by the mort­gage cri­sis, per­haps turn­ing Adair Park into the next hip neigh­bor­hood with plenty to im­prove.

Poven­tud wants his home to be­come a hub for the Rad­i­cal Faeries and he plans to in­vite Liv­ing Walls, a col­lec­tion of At­lanta street artists, to tem­po­rar­ily set up base­camp in the house once the sec­ond bed­room is fin­ished.

Still, the re­al­ity of ren­o­vat­ing a home in a his­toric neigh­bor­hood pre­sented him with chal­lenges he hadn’t ex­pected. Red tape and fi­nan­cial re­stric­tions have seen the project de­layed to al­most two full years. Yet some­how, through­out all of the trou­ble, Poven­tud has re­mained pos­i­tive and never strayed from his ul­ti­mate vi­sion of restor­ing a 90-year old At­lanta home.

Now hope of a com­pleted project is fi­nally on the hori­zon. Poven­tud says he’s about two months away from mov­ing into his new home, a far cry from his sit­u­a­tion last June, when a “Cre­ative Loaf­ing” fea­ture on his project high­lighted is­sues with code en­force­ment and de­lays with con­trac­tors that put the project off sched­ule and over-bud­get. What a dif­fer­ence a year can make. “We’re really far along in the process,” Poven­tud says. “The sid­ing is go­ing on this week. Next week is in­su­la­tion and dry­wall. We’ve passed all of our rough in­spec­tions. The fin­ish­ing of the elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing, gas, HVAC, then the trim work is next.”

The next big job, Poven­tud says, will be a paint­ing party — B.Y.O.P. (bring your own paint), of course. He hopes to have the en­tire house painted in a week­end.

Af­ter that, Poven­tud says, it’ll be time to move in and party.

Help from a few hun­dred friends

Early in the process, mort­gage providers weren’t in­ter­ested in lend­ing out the full amount needed to re­store Poven­tud’s house. Mort­gage lenders be­lieved that once the house was ren­o­vated, it would be worth $90,000, well short of the $140,000 es­ti­mate to com­plete the restora­tion. This left him short more than $50,000. He bor­rowed from his 401k. He used lines of credit. And in late 2012, he turned to indiegogo. com, a crowd sourc­ing fundrais­ing plat­form, to help fill the gap be­tween the loans and per­sonal fi­nances and the end cost of the ren­o­va­tion.

“Long ago, my pub­lic and pri­vate lives merged,” Poven­tud says. “I wasn’t plan­ning on be­ing as pub­lic as I’ve been, but once trou­ble started that was the most ef­fec­tive way to get help. There has been so much involvement and outreach.”

More than 250 peo­ple do­nated to his cam­paign but Poven­tud claimed just over half of his $20,000 goal. Oth­ers have do­nated cash or have helped with hands-on work at the house.

In to­tal, Poven­tud says that per­haps as many as 500 peo­ple have helped him dur­ing the process through do­na­tions of time or money.

“A lot of peo­ple had as­sumed all was doomed,” Poven­tud says. “This wouldn’t have hap­pened with­out the en­tire city step­ping in to help out.”

‘This guy is le­git’

When Poven­tud isn’t work­ing at his rail­road job at CSX or on his house, he is ac­tive with At­lanta’s Rad­i­cal Faeries and reg­u­larly ap­pears at LGBT events in his trade­mark lime green dress and rollerblades.

He’s also a reg­u­lar vol­un­teer with Trees At­lanta and an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for the At­lanta Belt­line, a re­de­vel­op­ment project that’s turn­ing an aban­doned rail­way cor­ri­dor into a multi- pur­pose trail that when com­pleted will con­nect many of the city’s neigh­bor­hoods, in­clud­ing Poven­tud ‘s new home in Adair Park.

Be­cause of his vis­i­bil­ity in the com­mu­nity, word on Poven­tud’s story gets around.

When Sarah Bal­ter walked into Poven­tud’s house Mon­day, Feb. 18, she was meet­ing him for the very first time but she al­ready con­sid­ered him a friend.

“I felt like I had one of those one-way friend­ships,” she says. “I’ve been want­ing to come for a long time. So I fi­nally had a day when I had noth­ing to do. I just got up and I went.”

Bal­ter first be­came aware of Poven­tud’s story through a friend’s post on Face­book about five or six months ago, she says. His in­vi­ta­tions for help have been an­swered by peo­ple just like Bal­ter dur­ing the project.

“When I found out about it, I re­searched ev­ery­thing I could about him,” Bal­ter says. “An­gel’s house, who is this? Is this a per­son or a cause?”

Sarah says she was drawn to his story and ap­pre­ci­ates his vi­sion for a re­vi­tal­ized Adair Park.

“He wants to ben­e­fit the area and ben­e­fit the peo­ple. He has an over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive way to be like that,” she says. “I’ve al­ready vol­un­teered to help paint. I’ll be try­ing to stay in­volved as much as I can. I feel like I made a friend with An­gel.”

An­gel Poven­tud says he is en­ter­ing the fi­nal leg of an epic restora­tion project of a 1923 Adair Park home and hopes to move in to the home be­fore sum­mer. (Pho­tos by Bo Shell)

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