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'SNL' star Michael Che will pay tenants' rent to honor his late grandmother

Michael Che attends the Mark Twain Prize

 Michael Che attends the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at The Kennedy Center on Oct. 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Credit: Getty Images / Paul Morigi

"Saturday Night Live" star Michael Che says that in tribute to his recently deceased grandmother, he is paying a month's rent for each apartment in her former building.

"[I]ts crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent when so many new yorkers cant even work" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 36-year-old Che wrote in a mostly lowercase and punctuation-free Instagram missive Thursday, after announcing in a since-deleted April 6 post that his grandmother had died of the coronavirus. 

"[O]bviously i cant offer much help by myself," he continued. "[B]ut in the spirit and memory of my late grandmother, im paying one months rent for all 160 apartments in the NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] building she lived in. i know thats just a drop in the bucket. so I really hope the city has a better plan for debt forgiveness for all the people in public housing, AT THE VERY LEAST."

He ended with a plea to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and rapper and music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs to contact him, saying, "let's fix this!"

In response to a comment asking why his grandmother was apparently still living in NYCHA housing, Che clarified, "lol i guess thats a fair question. but she hasnt lived in public housing since like 1990, when she moved down south. but that building is very significant in my family's history, so thats why i chose it. i guess i just worded it weird."

Che grew up in NYCHA's 12-building Alfred E. Smith Houses apartment complex on the Lower East Side. It was unclear if this had been the home of his grandmother, whose name he gave as Martha on last weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live."

According to multiple transcriptions of his since-deleted post announcing her death, Che, born Michael Che Campbell, had written, "Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus. I'm doing OK, considering. I'm obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone. But I'm also happy that she's not in pain anymore. And I also feel guilty for feeling happy. Basically the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special. I'm not unique. But it's still scary. I don't know if I'll lose someone else to this virus. I don't know if I'll be lost to this virus. Who ... [expletive] knows?"

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