Who We Are
Crystal Palmer, Asst. Director of Community Engagement
Ms. Palmer, a former public housing resident, serves as CHA’s Ombudsman as well as liaison to the residents’ Central Advisory Council. Before joining CHA, Ms. Palmer served on the CAC as President of the Henry Horner Homes-Westhaven Local Advisory Council. Among the honors Ms. Palmer has received are being named one of the “Ten Most Influential Women on the West Side”, a “Community Hero” by LISC/Chicago and BPI’s “Champion of the Public Interest 2014.” Ms. Palmer also serves as Vice Chair of the National Public Housing Museum’s Board of Directors.
Sharon Wheeler, Community Engagement Specialist
As a specialist, Ms. Wheeler collaborates with residents and local stakeholders on community building efforts in mixed-income housing developments that arose under CHA’s Plan for Transformation. Prior to joining CHA, she was the Program Manager for the Near North Unity Program (NNUP) in the Cabrini Green community working with residents and stakeholders concerning safety, employment, housing and youth & families issues. A 26 year resident of the Cabrini Green neighborhood, in 2014 Ms. Wheeler received NNUP’s Community Advocate Award.
About Community Engagement
CHA established the Ombudsman in 2009 to address the concerns of CHA residents living in mixed-income developments. The Ombudsman served as a liaison between residents, property management, and/or community stakeholders. As the Ombudsman offered expanding partnerships for residents and their communities, we are now Community Engagement. Community Engagement’s goal is to partner with local stakeholders to achieve their vision of a healthy and thriving community. The team routinely works with the following to address individual and community-wide concerns, as well as improve residents’ quality of life:
- CHA Ombudsman
CHA established the the Ombudsman in 2009 to address the concerns of CHA residents living in mixed-income developments
Liaison between residents in mixed-income developments, property management and CHA staff
- CAC/LAC Liaison
Liaison between the CAC and CHA leadership. Coordinates CAC Funding Agreement through reviews of invoicing and other activities
Liaison between residents, property management and LACs in traditional public housing by request
Community engagement event planning
Partnerships with CPD, CPS, Aldermen and more
Community is What We Do!
CHA Community Engagement’s vision is to partner with residents and local stakeholders to achieve their vision of a healthy and vibrant community.
- Residents’ relationships are neighborly and built on shared values.
- Residents are fully integrated into the mixed-income developments and larger community.
- Residents feel empowered to make their com-munity a better place to live and work.
- Community building and engagement efforts result in collaboration and a shared community vision amongst all residents.
- CHA’s involvement in facilitating community engagement decreases as residents take on advocacy and/or leadership roles and initiatives.
Mixed Income Development Spotlight
The events highlighted below were inclusive of all community members not just limited to our CHA families. This includes homeowners, market rate renters, affordable renters and CHA families. The Community Engagement team is the vehicle which the CHA families, market rate renters, homeowners and community members engage in community-driven activities together. Our goal is to encourage more gatherings and participation to develop better relationships among all members of our communities. In the photo on the left below, Chicago Blackhawks in partnership on the right below, ta well deserved lot is being cleaned by community youth, seniors, My Block My Hood, My City, TMO, Near West Side CDC, former Bulls player Will Purdue, Bulls staff, Blackhawks players and staff, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr, 27th Ward, Streets and Sanitation, Chicago Police Department along with CHA’s Community Engagement team members.
Working with the Community Engagement team, residents feel empowered to make their community a better place to live and work. CHA’s involvement in facilitating community engagement decreases as residents take on advocacy and/or leadership roles and initiatives. Below, City Garden residents and community members are participating in a ‘Clean & Green’ event at their local park. In the second photo, community partner, ComEd Rec Center is shown hosting a community open house this Spring.
Ombudsman Semi-Annual Listening Forums - Virtual in 2021
The Community Engagement team holds at least two semi-annual listening forums near mixed-income communities. The purpose of the forums is to provide residents with opportunities to meet with and receive resources from CHA and its external partners, as well as ask questions or voice concerns. Comments will be collected, responded to, and posted for download. The Virtual Listening Forum has been recorded and view the most recent comments:
If you have any questions, please feel free to call Community Engagement at 312.913.7899 or email CommunityE@thecha.org.
For inquiries regarding CHA’s site-based wait lists, please click here.
For questions regarding the Housing Choice Voucher program, please click here or call (312) 935-2600.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Community Engagement team can be reached by phone at 312.913.7899, by fax at 312.786.6981 or contact us please click here to email the Community Engagement team.
A call or inquiry to the Community Engagement team will be returned in the next 48 hours.
For more information please review: