Slay It Forward

Earlier this week, on March 30, Mario Salerno posted a sign on the front doors of his apartment buildings, announcing he would be waiving rent payments for the month of April.

Salerno, 59, owns around 80 apartments with 200 tenants across Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and said he made the decision to cancel the rent after hearing from a number of tenants who were struggling with their money situation as a result of the ongoing measures put in place throughout the city.

The notice, which was posted on the front doors of all of his 18 buildings, read: ‘Please note I am waiving rent for the month of April 2020. Stay safe, help your neighbors and wash your hands!!!’

Mario, who also owns the local car mechanic Salerno’s Autobody, has become a well-known and highly respected member of the local community, with one person describing him as ‘truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met’.

In an interview with NBC New York, Mario said he doesn’t care about losing his rental income this month, and that his only concern is the well-being of his tenants.

He explained:

I want everybody to be healthy. That’s the whole thing. 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.

One of Mario’s tenants, Kaitlyn Guteski, had been worrying about how she was going to pay rent after the hair salon she owns was shut down due to the social-distancing measures in place. Now she doesn’t have to, with the tenant saying: ‘He’s Superman. He’s a wonderful man.’

Another tenant, 28-year-old Paul Gentile, lost his job in March as New York City businesses began to shut down. A lawyer for a personal injury firm, Gentile spent most of his time in courthouses, all of which were closed on March 18.

He said that while he was surprised when he learnt his landlord would be waiving rent, he was not shocked. In the nearly four years he has lived in the apartment, Gentile said Mario has been a model landlord.

He told The New York Times:

You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City. He’s amazing. It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state.

What an incredible gesture from Mario. Hopefully, his actions will be mirrored by other landlords who are able to alleviate the worries of their tenants in any way.

It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing.

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Hey SLAYER! I’ve started a new series of posts called SLAY IT FORWARD. Each post is a submission from you of an act of kindness you have received or have witnessed that has inspired you. Let’s remind each other what’s important during this time and spread kindness… SLAY IT FORWARD.

To submit your own SLAY IT FORWARD story email me at carrie@stateofslay.com

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