Mario Salerno, a 59-year-old landlord to hundreds of tenants, who has been living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn his whole life recently announced that his tenants will be living rent-free this April.
Mario’s father started a gas station at Lomirer St. back in 1959, which his family still runs at Salerno Auto Body Shop.
Over many years, Mario was able to acquire a number of buildings mainly in Williamsburg and has currently around 200 tenants in 80 apartments.
“I had a lot of people telling me they don’t know how they will pay next month’s rent,” he said.
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Mario Salerno, a landlord in Brooklyn, canceled rent for hundreds of tenants for the month of April: "I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.”https://t.co/NnKRTmIROm
— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) April 3, 2020
Mario became worried that the people living in his buildings would likely not have enough money to make ends meet considering the current coronavirus situation in New York and around the world.
“I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about peoples’ health. 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,” he said.
A week ago, a letter was posted in the entrance of Mario’s buildings with the message that April’s rent will be waived for everyone:
“Due to the recent pandemic of coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month of April 2020,” the letter reads.
“They’re all very appreciative. I told them ‘make sure you help your neighbor,’” Mario said.
When he was asked whether his buildings were following the coronavirus hygiene guidelines, he said his workers are vigilant with sterilization and cleaning.
“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.”
Mario gives apartments on Lorimer and Maujer Streets but noted that the offer also extends to his commercial tenants such as a hair salon owner on Metropolitan Avenue who notified Mario that the business has been going downhill lately and may even have to close its doors.
Others, who have not lost their jobs offered to pay their rent, and even offered to pay their jobless roommates’ rent.
Mario expressed his hopes for New Yorkers to band together and do what they can to get through the current crisis.
“If everyone could stay home, take care of each other; whoever is fortunate to work, please try to help the person who can’t put food on the table.”
Here' something to brighten your day — a landlord in Brooklyn is telling his tenants not to worry about April rent.
— WNYC 🎙 (@WNYC) April 3, 2020
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