COVID-19 eviction ban nearly makes Staten Islander homeless

New York’s pandemic eviction ban nearly made a Staten Islander lose her Superstorm Sandy-damaged home.

Emily Barlow, who’s been struggling to oust a squatting tenant from her one-bedroom bungalow in Midland Beach, got a shocking letter from the state recently, threatening to take the home in 30 days.

The deed to Barlow’s home, which she bought in 2018, allows the state to take the property back if it’s not elevated by a certain time — but the squatter’s presence, and the pandemic shutdown, made it impossible for Barlow to get the work done before the July deadline, she said.

“It’s horrible. I’ve gone through hell,” she told The Post.

Squatter Saied Darabseh allegedly stopped paying his $1,300 rent in November, according to court documents. Barlow took him to city Housing Court but was unable to get Dabaseh out before Cuomo’s pandemic eviction moratorium, now in effect until Oct. 1, was issued.

“I love him on the TV but he hasn’t really been that good to the middle class,” Barlow said of Cuomo. “The problem with his policies is that they were done with hatchets, because they had to be done fast, when they needed to be done with scalpels.”

“I just feel like the middle class got completely crumbled in all this,” she said.

Squatter Saied Darabseh and his wife Stephanie Atalla
Squatter Saied Darabseh and his wife Stephanie AtallaFacebook

In the past, the state easily gave extensions to homeowners tasked with raising their homes by a certain deadline, but this year, they didn’t, said real estate lawyer Grace Mattei, who is working with Barlow.

“They took a hard line. It is bizarre,” she said.

“The marshal literally has the warrant of eviction in his hand, and can’t do anything with it, and at the same time the governor is trying to take the property back,” said attorney Philip Mattina, who handled Barlow’s Housing Court case against Darabseh.

Congressman Max Rose
Congressman Max RoseREUTERS

The 30-day letter from the state only went out after Barlow couldn’t be reached, the state claims. Barlow says the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery ignored her lawyer’s outreach prior to the July deadline, and that she never got phone messages.

Barlow eventually won a year’s reprieve from the state, after Congressman Max Rose intervened, she said. But she’s fearful the eviction ban could be extended again, allowing her tenant to stay until it’s too late — or that a second wave of COVID-19 would bring another shutdown to New York.

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“I just want to know how far these politicians are willing to go,” she said.

The GOSR said it’s given extensions to 46 homeowners, including Barlow, and has been “proactively” reaching out to them.

New York Post


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