A few days after losing his job in March, Paul Gentile was taking out the trash outside his Brooklyn apartment building when he saw a new sign hanging near the entrance. The sign read, “Due to the number of people that had lost their jobs, tenants in the building did not need to pay rent for April.” The landlord, Mario Salerno, made the signs which he posted at all of his 18 residential buildings in the borough.
New York is made up of millions of renters many of whom depend on a paycheck as a large part of their monthly income goes into having a place to live. The unexpected collapse of the economy has left many New Yorkers worried about how they can pay their bills, particularly rent. Across New York City, landlords have begun to panic as well as its evident that some tenants are unable to afford rent. Multiple polls conducted last month concluded that 40 percent of renters in New York City would not make April rent, due on Wednesday. This could be devastating, according to landlords, as it would leave them struggling to find ways to pay their own bills. Nonetheless, it’s too soon to get an exact number of how many renters delayed their April rent and what the consequence would be for landlords.
In an interview, Mr. Salerno said he did not care about losing his rental revenue in April. He also did not care about calculating the amount he would not be collecting from his 80 apartments. He said he had about 200 to 300 tenants in total. By canceling rent he is likely losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. His only concern was relieving pressure for his occupants, even those who are now working from home.
After reading this story I was moved. During this crisis, we have to stick together if we want to survive. We must remember that we are not alone. Many of us want to help, but the physical barrier has become a challenge. Rules have been placed that require us to be physically apart during the pandemic. Traditionally, the best way to ensure anyone can help would be volunteering. However, this is no longer possible. The good news is that the type of support that can benefit both parties, giver and receiver, can come in small or large packages. It can include making a donation or giving time to a cause. It can also be as simple as a phone call, giving advice or simply listening.