CHICAGO — The city is creating a first-of-its-kind position focused on tackling Chicago’s homelessness crisis.
The chief homelessness officer, or CHO, will address “the complexities of homelessness and housing insecurity in Chicago, fostering greater policy and operational coordination across City departments and sister agencies,” according to a Tuesday city news release.
The new role comes as Chicagoans have criticized city leaders for hostile tactics toward people experiencing homelessness and for neglecting the issue as shelters rapidly open for newly arrived migrants.
More than 68,000 Chicagoans experienced homelessness during 2021, including more than 44,000 people who temporarily stayed with others and “doubled up,” according to a report from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
The city’s latest “point-in-time” count found 6,139 residents experiencing homelessness in shelters, encampments or unsheltered on a night in January, according to the news release.
As migrant buses continue to arrive in Chicago at record rates, there are almost 9,000 people in city shelters, a city spokesperson said late last month.
Managing homelessness has been on Mayor Brandon Johnson’s legislative agenda. A compromise on the long-discussed Bring Chicago Home ordinance — which would raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end property sales to create a dedicated funding stream to combat homelessness — is expected to be discussed at a subject matter hearing Wednesday at City Council.
In a statement, Johnson said the chief homelessness officer position is “long overdue to provide solutions for stable, permanent and affordable housing.”
“By establishing a chief homelessness officer for the city of Chicago, we will have a critical point of contact to coordinate efforts and leverage the full force of government to provide shelter for all people,” Johnson said in the statement.
The city is partnering with the philanthropic network Chicago Funders Together to End Homelessness to create, hire and fund the position.
The job pays $150,000 and will be backed by Chicago Funders Together to End Homelessness for the first three years, said Emily Krisciunas, the group’s executive director.
Those interested should send a cover letter and resume to Danielle.Blick@cityofchicago.org by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 25, Krisciunas said. Links to “public work samples” like reports, dashboards and news coverage of past initiatives are also welcome, Krisciunas said.
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