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Hammerman named director of CDFI initiatives at Syracuse University, launches innovative Disability Opportunity Fund to help developers in arranging financing to create housing for people with disabilities
Hammerman named director of CDFI initiatives at Syracuse University, launches innovative Disability Opportunity Fund to help developers in arranging financing to create housing for people with disabilitiesSeptember 21, 2007Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Charlie Hammerman is on a mission — one both professional and personal — to create a first-of-its-kind Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that will provide developers across the country access to financial capital to build housing for people with disabilities.
As the newly appointed director of CDFI initiatives at Syracuse University, Hammerman is in the process of launching The Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF), an innovative CDFI that he says will “revolutionize the ways in which consumers, corporations, service providers and investors within the disability community interact.”
What’s a CDFI? It is a financing entity whose primary mission is community development with a focus on development of programs and strategies to meet the needs of low-income communities. A major function of CDFIs is to make loans to organizations unable to get approved by traditional banking institutions. CDFIs provide a range of products, including comprehensive credit, investment, banking and development services. Some are chartered banks. Others are credit unions. And many operate as self-regulating, nonprofit institutions that gather private capital from a range of community-minded investors.
In short, CDFIs support the creation of affordable housing via the provision of financing capital and technical assistance.
According to Hammerman, there is a pressing need for a CDFI focusing specifically on the disability community. “Traditionally, the needs of the disabled in the US have been addressed by fragmented and inefficient methods,” he says. “DOF will consolidate best practices to deliver first-class solutions to this community.”
A 2007 market study commissioned by the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University found:
- There is not enough funding available from typical sources (government) to meet the needs of organizations interested in developing housing for people with disabilities.
- Relatively few existing CDFIs provide capital for development of housing for people with disabilities within their target markets, and there is no CDFI at the national level that targets the housing market for people with disabilities.
- There is a need for an industry-wide exchange of information that could inform design, planning and better coordination between developers and end-users or entities that represent end-users.
Hammerman says DOF will address these and other pressing needs in the disability housing market in ways no other CDFI has been able.
While DOF will seek partnerships with Syracuse University on various projects, it will operate as a separate legal entity.
Before undertaking this new venture, Hammerman most recently was a managing director of the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University (http://bbi.syr.edu/), or BBI, an organization dedicated to fostering public-private dialogue to advance civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society.
He is also the nephew of the late Burton Blatt (1927-85), former dean of SU’s School of Education and a pioneer in humanizing services for people with mental retardation, a staunch advocate of deinstitutionalization, and a national leader in special education.
Hammerman and his wife, Nanci, live in Hewlett Harbor, N.Y., with their seven children, including a 17-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.
Previous to his work with BBI, Hammerman for 12 years honed his financial and legal expertise as an executive for Merrill Lynch, serving in various leadership capacities, including as a senior member of Private Executive Services (a division of Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client Group), as a professional in Merrill Lynch’s Equity Capital Markets division, and serving in the Office of General Counsel. Prior to Merrill Lynch, Hammerman was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. He began his career as an associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius after earning a bachelor’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis and a J.D. at Fordham University School of Law.
While at Merrill Lynch, Hammerman was involved in the creation of the firm’s “Disability Awareness Professional Network” in New York and was a member of Merrill Lynch’s Diversity Advisory Committee to Management, representing employees with disabilities, employees with family members with disabilities and the divisions within the firm that market to customers with disabilities.
For more information on The Disability Opportunity Fund, contact Hammerman at (212) 886-9095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.