Resident Engagement in Community

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 Who We Are


Crystal Palmer, Asst. Director of Resident Engagement in Community

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 in Community 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 Resident Engagement in Community

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 have changed our name to Resident Engagement in Community. Our goal is to partner our residents 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
  • Listening Forums

  • 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

  • Relationship Building

    • Community engagement event planning

Resident Community is What We Do!

CHA's vision of Resident Engagement in Community 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

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. The Resident Engagement in Community 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. 

OCE Blackhawks Community Work
MBMHMC Community Work

Working with the Resident Engagement in Community team, residents feel empowered to make their community a better place to live and work. CHA’s involvement in facilitating residents' 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.


Park Douglas residents and surrounding community participated in city of Chicago’s Annual Clean & Green event. Park Douglas Property management, TMO and CHA’s Resident Engagement in Community organized and worked with CHA and approximately 25 area residents to beautify the Park Douglas community. White Castle provided cheeseburgers, hamburgers and cake that we shared as a community after the event and Wintrust provided tote bags which were packed with informational flyers. Many thanks to the numerous young people that participated and all the residents that joined in the effort.

Ombudsman Semi-Annual Listening Forums - Virtual in 2021

The Resident Engagement in Community 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, receive responses, and posted for download.

The Virtual Listening Forum has been recorded, view the most recent comments: (Spanish/Español

If you have any questions, please feel free to call Resident Engagement in Community at 312.913.7899 or email

Other Information:

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 Resident Engagement in Community 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 Resident Engagement in Community team.

A call or inquiry to the Resident Engagement in Community team will be returned in the next 48 hours.

For more information please review:

Spring 2021 Virtual Listening Forum Recording