Democratic lawmakers are set to meet on Monday to discuss the next steps for New York's soon-to-lapse moratorium on pandemic-related evictions, which could ultimately lead to a special session of the state Legislature at some point this week.
The looming expiration of the moratorium, Tuesday, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal ban, is driving lawmakers to discuss the extension, along with an effort to push more than $1 billion in aid to tenants and landlords who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money has slowly trickled out over the several weeks, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has highlighted efforts in recent days to promote the aid.
But a special session could also see lawmakers take up additional bills -- unfinished business from the regularly scheduled session of the Legislature that concluded in June.
Advocates on Sunday urged the state Senate and Assembly to take up a measure known as the "clean slate" bill, which is meant to seal and expunge many criminal records. The proposal is aimed at helping people with years-old convictions gain employment and not be turned down for housing.
The Clean Slate New York Coalition in a statement Monday urged lawmakers to extend the eviction moratorium while linking the issue to the broader issue of housing security.
"That is why we call on lawmakers to pass the Clean Slate Act in addition to extending the eviction moratorium," the coalition said in a joint statement. "Clean Slate would end pervasive and insidious housing discrimination that millions of New Yorkers with conviction histories face by sealing these records."
The clean slate measure failed to gain final passage in June after some lawmakers raised concerns with the scope of records being sealed and expunged. Lawmakers have not ruled out passage of a revised version of the bill at some point, however.
"Without a stable, affordable place to live, it is nearly impossible to rebuild your life following incarceration or a conviction," the group said. "If we want to protect New Yorkers during economic downturns and break cycles of poverty, then we must remove these barriers. Our legislature must not delay passage of the Clean Slate Act any longer.”
The details surrounding the extension of the eviction moratorium will matter for lawmakers, landlords and housing advocates.
Affordable housing advocates have called for an extension lasting into the spring of next year, pointing to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. But a more tailored extension of the moratorium until October is also under consideration, coupled with heavy promotion of the emergency rental assistance program and a focus on ending bureaucratic problems with sending money to those who need it.
Landlord organizations have pointed to the struggles of small property owners during the eviction moratorium, and aspects of New York's ban have been successfully challenged in court, along with the broader federal moratorium being struck down last week.