A Catholic landlord made the decision on March 30 to waive April’s rent for all of his 200 tenants, in the hopes of giving them one less thing to worry about amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I told them not to worry, not to panic, we’re going through some very tough times with this monster disease,” Brooklyn landlord Mario Salerno told EWTN News Nightly.
“My Catholic faith brought it upon me to make this decision. I pray every day, and when I have extra time, when I’m in quarantine, I pray and I ask the good Lord to please conquer this vicious virus.”
Salerno, 59, owns a mechanic shop, gas station, and an auto body shop as well as 80 apartments in Brooklyn. Many of his tenants have lost their jobs, he said.
“I wanted them to have some peace of mind, not worrying about where their next dollar was. As a human, I felt a lot more comfortable making sure they had food on their table, which several of them didn’t, and I felt very honored to tell them that.”
Salerno said he’s not overly concerned about the loss of his income— and more concerned about the human lives residing under his roofs. The financial losses are irrelevant to the value of a human life, and “I value people’s lives,” he said.
“At the end of my journey, when I go and meet the dear Lord and the dear master, I want to ask Him before he could ask me: ‘Was I good? How was my faith?'” he said.
Salerno posted notices on all his buildings that April’s rent would be waived. Since then, many of his tenants have approached him offering to help to pump gas at his station, mop his buildings, and offer other help.
Salerno said he has encouraged his tenants to take care of their neighbors first. He said some are still working, and are willing to pay him rent, and he has encouraged them to put their rent money toward food instead.
“We need the good Lord. He can conquer this; we need to pray,” Salerno said.
Almost ten million people in the U.S have filed for unemployment insurance in the last two weeks, a period representing the most catastrophic job loss since the Great Depression. Economists have estimated that national unemployment rate is now roughly 13%, higher than it has been since the 1930s.