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'There are no ifs or buts' | Why Atlanta is tearing down a house a man says is in good condition

Swapan Kumar said he can fix the home up and turn it into affordable housing for a family, but the city said it wants it torn down.

ATLANTA — The city is tearing down hundreds of homes across Atlanta that are falling apart and considered dangerous, a process that's usually a welcome move in a neighborhood. But not for one man.

Swapan Kumar said the city is trying to tear down his perfectly good home, and he doesn’t know why.

“We’ve put in about $20,000 to $25,000 worth of work into the property,” said Kumar, who owns a home off Browns Mill Road in Southeast Atlanta. 

According to him, the house has come a long way.

“We took out a nest of five snakes from there," he said. "The property was stinking terribly."

Kumar bought the property two years ago from the Metro Atlanta Land Bank with plans of fixing it up and renting it out as an affordable housing property. 

However, shortly after buying it, the developer ran into issues. The home got placed on the city’s demolition list, and Kumar said he had no idea.

“At that point, we were told we had 60 days to bring it into compliance, which we did,” he explained.

But even after the modifications, Kumar said the demolition notice stayed put and eventually a red "X" was tagged on the property indicating demolition is imminent.  

Emails from code enforcement said Kumar failed to apply for a permit within a certain time period, so it’s following through with demolition. However, Kumar said he never received any notices and all efforts to remedy the issues have failed.

“They’re just not willing to talk to us," he told 11Alive. "They say there are no ifs or butts. they’re tearing the property down.”

78 HOMES SLATED FOR DEMOLITION

Kumar's home on 3163 Browns Mill Road SE is one of 78 homes slated for demolition. But what frustrates him isn’t just that his home is on the list, it’s the other homes that aren’t.  

Just two doors down from his property lies a crumbling home blackened on the inside from a fire. Trash riddles the front yard along with overgrown bushes and grass. But, that property is not on the demolition list.

Many of the homes on the list in the area look like they’re in worse shape than Kumar's.

11Alive reached out multiple times to code enforcement for an interview about how it determines which homes make the list, and why it still plan on knocking down Kumar's property.

It only responded with a generic statement:

“When a complaint is submitted for city demolition consideration, the owner has been non-responsive to the Atlanta Police Department - Code Enforcement Sections notification regarding the conditions of their property. These properties are unsecured and easily accessible to the public, have excessive overgrowth, and littered with trash and debris. They have been an eyesore in the community for years. The properties degrade quality of life, contribute to crime, lowers surrounding property values, erode the health of local housing markets, and reduce local tax revenue.”

A RACE AGAINST TIME

“It’s not going to benefit the city," Kumar said. "It’s not going to benefit a family that could live here. It’s not going to benefit taxes." 

Kumar is trying to take legal action to keep his home standing, but he said time isn’t on his side. The city could show up any day to tear down his home.

The property needs about $35,000 worth of work, and it would be ready for a family, he said. But, because there is a stop order, there’s nothing he can do to improve it.  

The Reveal is an investigative show exposing inequality, injustice, and ineptitude created by people in power throughout Georgia and across the country. 

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