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Office of the Ombudsman

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The Department of Social Services (DSS) formed the Office of the Ombudsman to assist Department of Homeless Services (DHS) constituents, as well as the public, to access a wide array of information and services. The Office is an independent and impartial unit whose mission is to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness in New York City, assist them on their path to fairer access to essential resources, improve their quality of life while in shelter, and advocate for a meaningful role in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

The Office is charged with resolving constituent issues and concerns through alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation services. Experienced Constituent Services Representatives provide effective conflict resolution, and work to ensure fair and equal access to DSS, City, and community-based services and resources. The staff actively engages constituents and empowers them to participate in positive decision-making processes. With the goal of seeking independent and impartial issue resolution, the Office is responsible for:

  • Providing information and education on homeless services
  • Providing a supportive client experience through effective and compassionate listening, and timely client-focused case management
  • Providing general information about ways to contact other City agencies and community services
  • Addressing unresolved grievances or dissatisfied outcomes
  • Evaluating and investigating client grievances
  • Mediation
  • Strategic data tracking and recommendations to DHS management

The Office of the Ombudsman can be reached by phone at 800-994-6494, or via email at Calls are answered Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Constituents are also invited to meet with a Constituent Services Representative, at 109 E 16th Street, 8th Floor, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

It is important to note that your case worker or housing specialist should be contacted regarding the inquiries listed below. The Office of the Ombudsman is unable to initiate or make a determination on these types of inquiries.

While constituents always have the option of contacting DSS' Office of the Ombudsman directly, they may also submit a Constituent Grievance Form in writing to their shelter director or shelter case worker, as a way of presenting grievances concerning their receipt of DHS-funded services.