Public comments about the new Capital Magnet Fund have been posted by the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.

The comments cover a range of ideas for the design and administration of the program.

For example, the National Council of State Housing Agencies said it wants to see housing finance agencies eligible to receive Capital Magnet Fund assistance directly. The group further urges the Treasury Department to allow grantees to use a portion of their grants to cover project operating costs.

Noting the difficulties of defining “rural,” The Housing Assistance Council recommends that the Capital Magnet Fund target rural areas by incorporating the definition used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development arm for its rural housing programs.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials urges the CDFI Fund to ensure that local public housing agencies and redevelopment authorities are eligible to apply for the grants.

And, citing the nation’s tremendous need for affordable housing, the National Low Income Housing Coalition says the new resources should be targeted to meet the greatest need—housing for persons with extremely low incomes. The coalition recommends that 90 percent of the funds be targeted for housing, and 75 percent of those funds be targeted to those with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income (AMI). The remaining 25 percent should be targeted to those at or below 50 percent of the AMI, says the coalition.

            Comments from 36 different organizations are posted at

The Treasury Department had invited comments on how the CDFI Fund should design and administer the new program, which was established through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

Through the Capital Magnet Fund, the CDFI Fund will administer a competitive grant program for CDFIs and nonprofit housing organizations to attract private capital for and increase investment in the development, preservation, rehabilitation, and purchase of affordable housing and economic development activities.

The Obama administration has requested $80 million to finance the program in fiscal 2010. If funds are made available by Congress, the CDFI Fund anticipates that it will be able to solicit applications by the second quarter of fiscal 2010.