Office of Community Engagement

Community Engagement Banner 2021

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.

    • Provides a forum for residents to learn about unique opportunities in mixed-income communities. https://youtu.be/gPMddwP6yxQ

  • CAC/LAC Liaison

    • Serves as a liaison between the CAC and CHA leadership to communicate issues, items for review, and meetings.

    • Serves as liaison between residents and property management or local advisory council in traditional public housing on as-requested basis

    • Coordinates the CAC Funding Agreement and monitors Agreement through reviews of invoicing and other activities

Who We Are

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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.

 

Community is What We Do!

CHA Community Engagement’s goal is to partner with residents and local stakeholders to achieve their vision of a healthy and vibrant community. Our goals:

  • 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.
  • CHA’s involvement in facilitating community engagement decreases as residents take on advocacy and/or leadership roles and initiatives.
  • Community building and engagement efforts in their development, such as Trusted Space Net-work Nights. (see back for more information)

Mixed Income Development Spotlight

Westhaven Community

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. Community Engagement is the vehicle which the CHA families, market rate renters, homeowners and community members engage in community-driven activities together. Community Engagement partners with several community organizations including Chicago Police Department districts, area libraries, area fire departments, local schools, local businesses and restaurants, condo boards and condo members. Our goal is to encourage more gatherings and participation to develop better relationships among all members of our communities.

OCE Blackhawks Community Work
MBMHMC Community Work

Working with Community Engagement 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.

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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:

https://youtu.be/gPMddwP6yxQ

If you have any questions, please feel free to call Community Engagement at 312.913.7899 or email CommunityE@thecha.org.

Other Information:

For inquiries regarding traditional family developments, scattered-site housing or to speak to as CHA staff member in person, please visit CHA’s Client Center at 60 E. Van Buren St. on the first floor.  The client center is open Monday to Friday, from 8am-5pm.

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

Community Engagement 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:

Spring 2021 Virtual Listening Forum Recording