Editor’s note: This is one in a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times. Have a story we should tell? Send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Stepping Up.”
You can call it a random act of kindness, but Yacov Sinai said giving a break to the people who rent spaces at his Bella-B Mobile Home Park in North Seattle was something he had to do with the novel coronavirus impacting so many.
Sinai cut rents by $225 for a month, which he said was about a 27% reduction and totaled a little more than $15,000 for rents across the park.
“You have to come and see my tenants,” said Sinai, who has owned the property for 40 years, on why he reduced rent. “You cannot find people like that anywhere in the world. They are hardworking, they are raising children and they have been at my property for 10, 17 and 25 years. I have kids who were born in the park and now live in the park with their own families.
“It was the right thing to do. How could you not do that? … The kind thing to do is the right thing to do. I don’t know why everybody wouldn’t do that.”
John Walker has lived at the mobile-home park, one of only two in Seattle, for about 17 years. He said Sinai is not the typical landlord, in that when he has raised rent, “he sits down and talks to you about why he’s raising the rent and will show you the numbers and why he had to do it. But I didn’t expect him to do this.”
“Our owner did this to show other people that it could be done,” added Walker, who said his rent for the month went from $825 to $600.
The rent cut came at a good time for Walker, who said he had his hours cut to 12 per week at the retail store where he works because of the novel coronavirus.
Sinai said he thought about dividing the $15,000 of lost revenue over two or three months, but his manager persuaded him to give it all in reductions this month.
“When she knocked on the doors, she said 100% couldn’t believe it and some people really got emotional and they really appreciated it,” Sinai said.
Sinai said after the month reduction, “we’ll take it as we go and we’ll see how the situation is. I will continue to help as much as I can.”
Sinai said he hopes other landlords will see what he is doing and do something similar.
“In my opinion, it’s a given,” he said. “People are at home, and they don’t have work and they need to buy food and they have other expenses. … We are in emergency times and dire straits.”