"My concern is everyone’s health," he said. "I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table."
A New York City landlord became a lifesaver for hundreds of tenants in these dark times when he informed them that he wouldn't be collecting rent for the month of April. Mario Salerno, who owns roughly 80 apartments across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, recently posted a sign at all of his 18 residential buildings urging his tenants to stay safe during the pandemic and not worry about this month's rent. "Stay safe, help your neighbors & wash your hands!!! Thank you, Mario," read the sign that came as a heartwarming surprise to those who've been hit by the sudden collapse of the economy.
"I want everybody to be healthy. That's the whole thing," Salerno told NBC New York. The 59-year-old explained that he made the decision to waive rent after some of his tenants told him that they were worried about paying rent as they'd lost their jobs due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Three renters from Ireland had already packed up a few belongings and moved back home, he revealed.
This Brooklyn landlord, Mario Salerno, is also the owner of the local car mechanic “Salerno’s Autobody” in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He & his family make everyone feel like family. This is not surprising. https://t.co/Bs34tZeecZ— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) April 3, 2020
According to The New York Times, Salerno said in a recent interview that he isn't bothered about losing his rental income in April. nor was he concerned himself with calculating the exact amount that he wouldn't be collecting from his 80 apartments this month. Salerno said that he had about 200 to 300 tenants in total, which indicates that he is likely forgoing hundreds of thousands of dollars in income with this generous gesture. But he insists that he is only interested in alleviating stress for his renters at the moment. "My concern is everyone’s health," he said. "I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table."
Before the crisis, Mario Salerno has helped me & @SkeeterNYC out in so many small ways. He’s saved us a few times. Not for press. That’s just how he is. Glad everyone is getting to see it. https://t.co/iFstRMqW9f— Geoffrey Rickly (@GeoffRickly) April 3, 2020
One of Salerno's tenants, Paul Gentile, who spotted the sign on the door of his Brooklyn apartment building a few days after losing his job said that he was surprised but not shocked by it. In the almost four years that he has lived there, he's been very happy with his landlord. Emergencies are almost immediately fixed, like the time a water leak in his ceiling was fixed, patched, and painted within a matter of hours, he revealed. "You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City," the 28-year-old said. "He’s amazing."
Gentile, who was a lawyer for a personal injury firm, lost his source of income when courthouses closed their doors on March 18 due to the pandemic. The law firm’s partners told him that they hope to rehire him when the economy rebounds but since there's no telling when that might be, he spent days stressing about dipping into his savings to pay bills, including the amount he and his fiancée had reserved for their wedding in November. "It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state," Gentile said of Salerno's gesture.
Kaitlyn Guteski, who has been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon, echoed similar sentiments about her kindhearted landlord. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," she said. "It's a game-changer." This isn't the first time Salerno has vowed people in his neighborhood. For decades, he's been a larger-than-life character in his part of Williamsburg where he runs the Salerno Auto Body Shop and gasoline station, which his father opened in 1959. He's kept both the repair shop and station open in recent weeks as he wanted to be there for his customers. "Do I really want to do a simple oil change and a brake job?" he said, "No, but I have a lot of doctors and nurses who need their cars serviced."
This is a great story but I am disappointed that it does not mention how many times I have personally been offered meatballs by Mario Salerno while waiting to have my state inspection done https://t.co/C4vxaRFdOP— Andrew Rose Gregory (@arosegregory) April 3, 2020
This is my landlord. Witnessing this act of community-mindedness and generosity has affected me deeply. Relief in a situation like this shouldn't be on individuals to do the right thing, but it still rocks when individuals are doing the right thinghttps://t.co/9IBX9uw2i2— Amy Wilson (@howeverbal) March 31, 2020