Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson recently announced Sendy Soto as the City’s first Chief Homelessness Officer (CHO). 

Soto will coordinate across City departments and sister agencies to develop a five-year plan to address Chicago’s expected worsening homelessness crisis. 

The Department of Housing Development Point-time-Count estimated that 68,440 people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago in 2021, a 2,829-person increase from 2020, immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This in-depth analysis includes sheltered, unsheltered, and people temporarily staying with others. 

Many Chicagoans experienced sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, with an additional 7,985 people staying on the street or in shelters. (Nationwide, there are 650,000 homeless men and women).

“I created this position to ensure that we collaborate across departments and remove any and all obstacles that prevent people from securing stable housing. I look forward to working with her to develop a holistic strategy for combatting homelessness that centers the dignity and humanity of our unhoused neighbors,” Johnson said in a statement. 

Soto was named at the grand opening of Lawson House, a $128 million renovation project that modernized and preserved affordable apartment units. 

The rehabilitation of the historic 200,000-square-foot, 24-story apartment complex transformed the building’s 583 single-room occupancy units (SROs) into over 400 affordable apartment units with private kitchens and bathrooms. 

Soto attended Northeastern Illinois University, where she decided to major in justice studies.