Millions have been laid off in the last few weeks due to quarantine and stay at home orders, and that has made it impossible for many to pay their bills – including rent.
Some landlords have been more compassionate than others, especially this one Brooklyn landlord who has majorly stepped up to the plate.
“STAY SAFE, HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS & WASH YOUR HANDS!!!” Mario Salerno wrote on the signs, which he posted at all of his 18 residential buildings in the borough.
“I want everybody to be healthy. That’s the whole thing,” Mario Salerno told NBC New York.
Paying rent is causing widespread anxiety
Paying rent is the expense causing the most anxiety right now, and that is why tenant organizers across the country are planning a national rent strike and some government officials, like State Sen. Michael Gianaris have proposed a bill to forgive rents and multifamily mortgage payments for 90 days.
Although New York State instituted a 90-day ban on evictions, Governor Andrew Cuomo made it clear this week he had no plans to waive rent payments. So generous landlords stepped in to make a big difference.
…but this landlord is leading by example
Mario Salerno owns around 80 apartments in 18 buildings across across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn housing about 200-300 tenants in total. Many of them have been worried about paying rent because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic so he cancelled the rent for April.
The decision would likely cause him to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars for the whole month but that’s the least of his concerns.
For me, it was more important for people’s health and worrying about who could put food on whose table. I say don’t worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family.Mario Salerno to NBC News
Salerno made the decision after some of his tenants reached out to tell him that they could not afford rent. He even had three of them who had to move back to Ireland because of it.
He was a model landlord even before this
One of Salerno’s tenants, Mr. Gentile, has attested to his landlord’s exceptional greatness. A personal injury lawyer, he has lost his job due to the fact that courtrooms had to close down in the midst of the pandemic. With his upcoming wedding, Gentile had been worrying about his finances now that he had no income.
It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state.Mr. Gentile to The New York Times
Yet, there is more
Before becoming the landlord of hundreds of people, Salerno inherited his father’s business, the Salerno Auto Body Shop and gasoline station. To this day, this remains his primary occupation.
During the 80s, he acquired various empty lots which he later turned into apartment buildings. Even during the pandemic, his repair shop is remains open. Salerno says that he is doing it to help.
Do I really want to do a simple oil change and a brake job? No, but I have a lot of doctors and nurses who need their cars serviced.Mario Salerno to The New York Times
If there is one thing to take away from this incredible story, it’s Mario’s willingness to help by setting an unprecedented example. He said he hopes other landlords will do the same, and some have.
Times are tough and any way we can be there for each other and help each other through it will make a big difference in getting to the other side.
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