About the Office of the Ombudsman
CHA established the Office of the Ombudsman in 2009 to address the concerns of CHA residents living in mixed-income developments. The Ombudsman serves as a liaison between residents, property management, and/or community stakeholders.
For more information please review the Ombudsman Brochure:
The Office of the Ombudsman’s goal is to partner with local stakeholders to achieve their vision of a healthy and thriving community. The Office routinely works with the following to address individual and community-wide concerns, as well as improve residents’ quality of life:
- CHA FamilyWorks service providers
- CHA Housing Rights and Nondiscrimination (includes ADA and Section 504 Reasonable Accommodation)
- CHA Property Office
- CHA Relocation and Right of Return
- Central Advisory Council/Local Advisory Councils
- Community organizations and institutions
- Local businesses
- Property management firms
- Aldermanic Offices
- Chicago Park District
- Chicago Police Department
- Chicago Public Schools
What We Do
Like all renters in a community, property management is the first place that residents turn to when they have individual questions or concerns. However, the Office can assist residents with:
- an ongoing concern or issue not settled by property management
- connecting with CHA to learn about opportunities and resources
- community building and engagement efforts in their development, such as Trusted Space Network Nights.
Mixed-Income Development Spotlight
Legends South Garden Club
Every April to October, residents from the Legends South Garden Club--comprised of families, individuals, and seniors from the Legends South mixed-income development--meet to discuss gardening techniques and plan activities for the Legends South incubator farm. During the season, over 20 residents tend to their garden beds weekly and receive technical assistance from the wonderful Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest staff and team members. Resident gardeners have grown a bounty of produce such as watermelon and cantaloupe, several types of tomatoes, swiss chard, collard and turnip greens, various peppers, and flowers such as sunflowers and goldenseal flowers. Residents are proud of their community garden. In addition to being a great onsite amenity, it is also an enduring symbol of Legends South’s community building efforts.
Legends South residents interested in joining the Garden Club and participating in the 2019 growing season should look for announcements via the following:
- Flyers posted in property management offices and common areas
- Phone call
- FamilyWorks Offices
If residents have any questions, please contact Legends South Garden Club facilitator and Director of Resident and Community Services Vorricia Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.285.9500 or Manager of Resident and Community Services Chamala Jordan at email@example.com or 773.285.9500.
Recent Resident Engagement Activities in 2019 (AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2019):
Number of Ombudsman resident issue cases closed
Resolution time for resident issues
Number of residents engaged
Ombudsman Semi-Annual Listening Forums
The Office of the Ombudsman 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. Click on the following link to view the most recent comments.
Fall 2019 Meeting – Comments
Guest presenters at the Forum included:
- Citizens Utility Board (CUB): CUB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates on behalf of utility consumers for lower rates and better service from the Illinois’s investor-owned electric, gas, and telephone companies. CUB operates a consumer hotline (800-669-5556) that assists individual consumers who have complaints against their utility companies.
- Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA)
- Near North Unity Program: Community organization that seeks to connect residents and stakeholders in the Near North to enhance its growth and improve the community’s quality of life. Learn more about community meetings and events here.
- Choose to Own (CTO) Homeownership Program
- Employment Services
- Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program
- Partners in Education Program
- Section 3 Employment Opportunities
- Youth Opportunities.
- Victims Assistance Program
The next round of Resident Listening Forums will take place in April/May of 2020. Please look for a letter invitation in your mailbox. We look forward to seeing you in the spring!
If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Office of the Ombudsman at 312.913.7899 or email Ombudsman@thecha.org.
Who We Are
Crystal Palmer, Ombudsman and Asst. Director of Resident 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, Resident 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.
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.
The Office of the Ombudsman can be reached by phone at 312.913.7899, by fax at 312.786.6981 or contact us please click here to email the Office of the Ombudsman.
A call or inquiry to the Office of the Ombudsman will be returned in the next 48 hours.