A New York City landlord is giving his more than 200 tenants in buildings he owns across Brooklyn a gift they never expected — a month without rent.
Mario Salerno, 59, who owns about 80 apartments in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn and has between 200 and 300 tenants, said he acted when some tenants told him they were worried about making the rent payments after losing their jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus on New York City’s economy.
On March 30, he posted a notice on all of his buildings that read, “Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April.”
“I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about peoples’ health, he told the website Greenpointers.com.
“Not only are we up against an epidemic, these poor people have no jobs and they’re worried about getting sick. I didn’t think it was much on a person like me, who God was good to, to help them all out.”
Shout out to Mario Salerno! https://t.co/N33e9EFOCg
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 4, 2020
In its report on Salerno, The New York Times estimated he is giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“For me, it was more important for people’s health and worrying about who could put food on whose table,” Salerno told WNBC.
“I say don’t worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family.”
Salerno said the only thing he has asked of his tenants is that they help one another.
“They’re all very appreciative. I told them ‘make sure you help your neighbor,’” Salerno told Greenpointers.
He said he is doing his part to keep his buildings extra clean.
“Me, as a landlord, I make sure I clean the buildings daily, I send my men there every night and we make sure we clean and sterilize for everyone’s safety,” Salerno said.
Tenant Paul Gentile said the offer was a lifesaver.
Gentile explained that he was a personal injury lawyer whose firm laid him off after the courts in New York City closed on March 18.
“It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state,” he told The Times, saying it has taken 240 calls to the New York State Department of Labor to get someone to help him file for unemployment benefits.
Tenant Kaitlyn Guteski, who operates a hair salon in a building Salerno owns, called the landlord “Superman.
“He’s a wonderful man,” she said.
His offer was “a game-changer,” Guteski told WNBC.
Salerno said neighbors should be helping neighbors.
“If everyone could stay home, take care each other; whoever is fortunate to work, please try to help the person who can’t put food on the table,” he told Greenpointers.
Salerno also operates an auto repair shop that remains open.
“Do I really want to do a simple oil change and a brake job?” Salerno told The Times, referring to working during a pandemic.
“No, but I have a lot of doctors and nurses who need their cars serviced.”
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