A landlord in Maine says he won't collect rents in April and wants others to do the same

The coronavirus pandemic has created a whirlwind of events that have put the entire economy in limbo.

Restaurants are limiting their capacity or switching to take-out mode. Movie theaters are closed. Sports stadiums have shuttered. In most big cities, nightlife has come to a complete halt.

While these steps are necessary to protect the public's health, they've put countless people temporarily out of work. Many of these hourly workers without much of a savings.


A study from last year found that 40% of Americans don't have enough cash on-hand to handle a $400 emergency. That means a lot of people won't be able to pay their rents.

via Cafe Credit / Flickr

There are rumors swirling about that the federal government may send Americans checks to provide temporary relief but nothing is guaranteed at this point. One positive is many states have either expanded unemployment benefits or are looking to do so.

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that gives local governments the authority to halt evictions for renters or homeowners. But he stopped short of creating a statewide moratorium.

"People shouldn't lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19," Newsom said in a statement. "Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices – but a place to live shouldn't be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians."

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While our lawmakers scramble to find a way to help people in the crisis, one landlord is taking care of his tenants himself. He hopes to start a trend that other landlords will follow.

Nathan Nichols, a landlord in Maine, announced on Facebook that he would not be collecting rent from his tenants in April due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. He says they are service and hourly workers who may not be able to make much money in the coming months.

"COVID19 is going to cause serious financial hardship for service and hourly workers around the country," Nichols wrote on Facebook.

"I own a two unit in South Portland and all of my tenants are in this category. Because I have the good fortune and of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April," he continued.

Nichols made his decision public to inspire other landlords to "consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well."

"I am quite surprised and I am happy that it got shared a lot because I do seriously hope that people who have some privilege will see this and take a hard look and see what they can do," Nichols told WMTW.

"If more people do this, which is the only reason I posted this in the first place, to hopefully get people to take a hard look at what they can do to keep things working," he said.

He then made a follow-up post where he was excited to announce that another landlord had followed suit.

via Nathan Nichols / Facebook

Obviously, not all landlords are in the financial position to grant their tenants a rent-free month. Nichols should be commended because he could and he did. More importantly, his viral post also highlighted the fact that housing could be a serious problem in the coming weeks.

A crisis like the one we're facing gives us all the opportunity to ask ourselves how we can help those around us. While some of us, like Nichols, can help others financially, we all have abundant humanity to lend, and that can significantly improve lives, too.

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.