Housing policy to address a spiraling affordability problem and a measure that would seal criminal records after a number of years for potentially millions of New Yorkers have become the top-tier issues ending the legislative session in Albany. 

State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are weighing agreements on both issues as members of the Legislature seek to conclude their Capitol work for the remainder of the year. 

With the clock ticking, multiple lawmakers on Monday indicated they expect to remain in Albany until Friday, adding a day to the legislative calendar. 

A big deal on housing?

When she started the year, Gov. Kathy Hochul had called for a statewide housing compact. It's ambitions were wide-ranging: encouraging development around commuter rail lines, incentivizing home construction with infrastructure money and overriding local zoning for qualified projects. 

The measure fell flat with Democrats who control the Legislature, and the state budget did not include any of the broadstrokes of Hochul's initial plan. 

Now, state lawmakers are wading through a variety of housing measures, including an extension of a tax credits to encourage affordable housing in New York City while also working through the specifics of a measure meant to prevent landlords from evicting tenants due to rent increases. 

"There is such a grand need to protect tenants who are being kicked out of their homes," said Assembly Housing Committee Chair Linda Rosenthal. "So, there’s something for everyone and I hope we can get to it by the end of the session."

But an agreement for housing is a complicated one as lawmakers try to develop the bills into a single legislative package. 

"People have a lot of needs when it comes to producing a housing package," Rosenthal said. "We need more building, yes, we also need more tenant protections."

Landlords have, and remain, opposed to the measure known to supporters as the Good Cause Eviction bill. A host of business entities based on Long Island — a key political consistuency — blasted the proposal on Monday. 

“Good Cause Eviction is a deliberately misnamed bill that’s spearheaded by a small group of self-proclaimed New York City-based socialists," said Kyle Strober, the executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island. "In reality, the legislation is a trojan horse that would erode property rights, harm tenants in the long run, and stop the development of much-needed housing within our region.”

Sealing records 

Meanwhile, lawmakers and Hochul are also trying to work out an agreement to seal many criminal records in New York.

The legislative version of the measure would seal records three years after sentencing for misdemeanor convictions and seven years for felonies. Sex crimes would not be covered. 

Hochul on Sunday said it will come down to the specifics.

"There’s some technical changes. We want to make sure we exclude certain kinds of crimes and make sure the length of time is proper," she said. "I’m looking very closely at it. But I feel very confident we’ll be able to work something out that is very good for the people of this state."

Supporters like Assemblymember Michaelle Solages contend the bill known as the Clean Slate Act will benefit millions of people with criminal records who struggle to find housing or work because of a years-old conviction.

"I know many people have concerns, but we have a large contingency of New Yorkers who want to work, but can’t because they’re being perpetually punished," she said. 

Advocates are wary of potential compromises. The Clean Slate Coalition in a statement were skeptical of claims the changes could be technical. 

"They would exclude thousands of New Yorkers who are already home in the community, have served their sentences, and are simply trying to access basic life essentials," the group said. "This benefits no one. The Clean Slate Act, by allowing people to secure stable employment and housing, strengthens communities and reduces recidivism."

But after a session in which scaling back criminal justice law changes like the state’s controversial cashless bail measure, Republicans like Assemblyman Chris Tague believe the proposal flies in the face of what voters want.

"I think the history of somebody and their criminal record is important moving forward," said Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague. "So, I wouldn’t support it."

And prosecutors have problems with the record sealing proposal as well. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York in recent days sent a letter to members of the Legislature opposing it, arguing the current law that seals records under judicial oversight is sufficient. 

At the same time, district attorneys are also concerned with the logistics of automatically sealing records. 

"Automatically sealing massive volumes of criminal records across many different technology systems requires a considerable investment of money for technology, staff and training," the group wrote. "Automated systems and the processes of automatically deleting or setting aside information inherently has risks that should be considered before such legislation is enacted. Inevitably mistakes will be made and records that should be sealed will not and records that should not be sealed will be sealed. Some human oversight is necessary."