ATLANTA — Busted windows, abandoned cars and weeds so tall you can barely see the house. It’s a problem we’ve seen throughout the city of Atlanta, that’s costing millions in taxpayer money to fight.
A Clayton County attorney, hired to prosecute those offenders now finds himself accused of his own code violations at multiple properties.
Yusef Poole knew that the city was coming to inspect his properties, yet this is how he left them. It may be good enough for Poole, but it’s not good enough for the city, and certainly not for neighbors.
Neighbors call these two homes on Claude Street an ongoing eyesore. Atlanta code enforcement calls them “highly hazardous.” They are a stark contrast to the homes next door.
“We’re trying to make the community better,” said a neighbor. “We’re trying to make the city of Atlanta better.”
Property records show the homes have been owned since 2006 by Yusef Poole or his real estate development company Strategic Exchange. For the past two years, neighbors say they have been fighting a court battle to get Poole to cut the overgrown weeds, peeling paint, and busted doors and windows.
“This is the fourth time we’ve been to court for this case,” said a representative from the county prosecutor’s office. “The first time was reset because he did not show up.”
Earlier this year, the city cited Poole for one property. On Wednesday, during a court appearance to answer to the allegations, he was cited for the other.
“The bottom line is, now that I understand it is my responsibility, I’m going to handle it,” Poole said.
Neighbors aren’t cutting him any slack. Yusef Poole isn’t just “some guy.” He is a Clayton County staff attorney, who on his LinkedIn page, says it is his responsibility to “prosecute code violation and enforcement cases.”
“It’s shocking to think that someone like this is treating a house and treating a neighborhood this way,” said the neighbor.
It’s certainly not how he treats his own home. We drove by it. The lawn is mowed and clean. Poole says one of the properties fell into disrepair because he thought the bank owned it. According to city records, he even stopped paying taxes.
Poole was confronted by 11Alive’s Rebecca Lindstrom.
“Even if it was owned by the bank at one time it was owned by Strategic Exchange, at one time it was owned by you. Yet it seems this has been a continual problem no matter who owned it,” she said to him.
Poole did apologize privately to homeowners after the hearing. He said he would fire the person that was supposed to be maintaining the yard. When I asked who he had hired, there was no answer.
“It wasn’t intentional to let the property go into disarray,” Poole told Lindstrom.
Poole has two weeks to make good on his promise, cutting the weeds and securing the homes, before he appears before a judge again.