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That Greenbelt will bring in from .4% to .7% on the U. S. Government's investment is not because it could not have been made to bring in more. Started as a relief project in 1935, its actual cost can be reduced to $8,500,000 by charging off the inefficiency of relief labor. If Greenbelt homes were rented for all they would bring in, the Government's return would be some $380,000. Main difficulty of the Department of Agriculture in starting Greenbelt and two other similar R. A. projects near Cincinnati and Milwaukee is to keep out families who, well able to afford living elsewhere, consider such suburbs a kind of Utopia. First requirement for living in Greenbelt is an income of from $1,000 to $1,200 a year.
Greenbelt houses' average cost is $5,423. Average rent will be $31.23, including heat. One-room, apartments cost $18, seven-room houses $39. Greenbelt's houses are all in modern style, with a maximum of electrical appliances. A commercial firm is ready to supply suitable modern furnishings for tenants who feel up to them. In addition to cheap, luxurious housing, Greenbeltians will enjoy advantages that even de luxe suburban realtors would dare promise only in their wildest dreams. On a 200-acre knoll of carefully-landscaped, reclaimed farm land, Greenbelt is laid out in a wide crescent with the commercial section concentrated in the middle. Main trunk highways, with cheap bus service to Washington, skirt the town. Greenbelt's 18 miles of paved highway ($528,000), 18 miles of walks ($146,000) are so arranged that only pedestrians who intend to commit suicide ever need be run over. Greenbeltians who own cars can store them in garages for $1 a month or leave them in free convenient parking lots.
When they start moving in about Oct. 1, Greenbeltians will have a library, community auditorium, recreation centre ($112,000) and 25-acre lake ($178,000). Small Greenbeltians can choose between two schools ($494,000) without being compelled to mingle with outsiders until they are adolescents. Around Greenbelt to protect it from the outside world is an 8,000-acre tract in which the town can expand. Bought for $98 an acre, it has appreciated so fast that an acre adjoining it is now worth $4,000.
Greenbeltians will naturally pay no taxes: the Government will take a fraction of their rent instead. Chartered as Maryland's first city-manager town, Greenbelt will hold its first election on Nov. 23. with all tenants who have lived there for ten days previous eligible to vote.