"I want everybody to be healthy," Mario Salerno said

By Robyn Merrett
April 03, 2020 09:41 PM
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A Brooklyn landlord is being hailed a hero after he opted to waive April’s rent for his tenants amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On March 30, Mario Salerno, who owns about 80 apartments throughout Williamsburg and Greenpoint, left a note for the residents of his properties, which read “Due to the recent pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting all of us, please note I am waiving rent for the month for April,” NBC New York reported.

“Stay safe, help your neighbors and wash your hands,” the note concluded.

Explaining his reason for doing the selfless deed, Salerno told NBC New York he simply wants “everybody to be healthy.”

“That’s the whole thing,” he shared.

“For me, it was more important for people’s health and worrying about who could put food on whose table,” Salerno told NBC New York. “I say don’t worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family.”

Salerno’s gesture has been a tremendous help to his residents with tenant Kaitlyn Guteski telling NBC New York, “He’s Superman.”

Guteski has been out of work after her hair salon was forced to shut down amid the global health crisis.

“He’s a wonderful man,” Guteski told NBC New York.

Another resident, a man named Gentile, told The New York Times, “You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City. He’s amazing.”

Like Guteski, Gentile was worried about how he would make ends meet after he lost his job as a lawyer for a small personal injury firm, he told The New York Times. Gentile had also been saving up for his upcoming wedding in November.

“It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state,” Gentile added.

Salerno, who also owns a gas station, which he inherited from his father, has long been known for his acts of kindness within the New York community.

Back in 2012, Salerno swung into action to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“I’m trying to keep everything flowing. I’ve been pumping gas every day. I’m not a large huge company, but I go the distance,” Salerno said in a YouTube video amid the natural disaster, explaining how he was using his business to aid New Yorkers.

“I also lowered the price of gasoline … I don’t want to gauge, that’s not of me. I’m a New Yorker. I take care of first responders, I take care of children. I want everyone to just try and hold on together,” Salerno said.

Salerno did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

As of Friday, there are now at least 272,502 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, the most worldwide.

At least 7,046 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.