Greenbelt Homes Inc.

Greenbelt Homes Inc. (HMHMS)

Location: Greenbelt, MD 20770 Prince George's County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 0.121', W 76° 52.343'

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In 1936 the federal government built Greenbelt and two other "greenbelt towns" as models of town and community planning. The government carefully selected tenants for the utopian town and acted as landlord. Although Greenbelt was carefully planned, the government had not planned for the community's future as an independent town.

In 1946 a group of Greenbelt residents formed the Greenbelt Mutual Housing Association to study the feasibility of residents purchasing the homes and surrounding green space from the government, but they were unable to find financing at that time.

The government also explored selling the "greenbelt towns." The government's policy was to liquidate assets quickly by selling off property and units quickly to the highest bidder. Planners involved with Greenbelt convinced the Public Housing Authority to sell entire towns as units "to safeguard the educational and demonstration value of these examples of community planning."

In 1947 hundreds of residents created the Greenbelt Mutual Home Ownership Corporation (G. M. H. O. C.) - a non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of purchasing the town of Greenbelt and its surrounding land. G. M. H. O. C. reconstituted itself as the Greenbelt Veteran Housing Corporation (G. V. H. C.) in 1949 to comply with a federal law that the government first offer to sell the towns' housing and land to a group of potential residents, half of whom needed to be veterans. By 1950 G. V. H. C. had 1072 member families, 531 of whom were veterans. The government offered to G. V. H. C. all 1878 housing units, the commercial buildings and 808 acres of undeveloped land for $8,971,200. G. V. H. C. made a counter-offer, which excluded the apartment and commercial buildings, and included only 708 acres of land for $6,995,669. In December 1952, the government sold the property to G. V. H. C. while the apartment and commercial buildings were sold to six other private purchasers. G. V. H. C. sold much of Greenbelt's land to developers who built detached single family homes and apartments. Greenbelt's sale was one of the most contentious moments in the town's history because many tenants preferred to rent rather than buy into the cooperative. Thus many residents moved out of Greenbelt after the sale.

In May, 1957 G. V. H. C. changed its name to Greenbelt Homes Incorporated (G. H. I.). G. H. I. currently owns 1600 units including all of the 1937 townhomes, 1000 more units built in 1941 and 250 acres of land.

G. H. I. members pay a monthly fee which covers their property taxes and trash pickup as well as maintenance of the homes' electrical, plumbing and structural needs including roofing and hot water heaters.

A tumultuous moment in G. H. I.'s history came when the co-op's aging housing required renovation. For nearly a decade, the G. H. I. board and staff debated with co-op members over the cost of major repairs which would raise members' monthly co-op fees dramatically. By 1979 the members agreed to take out a massive loan from the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development (H. U. D.). Between 1980 and 1984, with a loan of $17.5 million, G. H. I. replaced all the homes' heating systems from oil fueled radiators to baseboard electric heaters, upgraded all the wiring and insulation, replaced all the windows and added new siding to the frame homes. In October, 2003 the G. H. I. members threw a party to celebrate paying off the "re-hab" loan. Today G. H. I. saves money in a special maintenance fund to cover ongoing maintenance projects so that future loans will not be necessary.

Corporate ownership of nearly all of Greenbelt's historic homes has allowed Greenbelt to be protected from further development in the city's historic core and it has encouraged community participation and cohesiveness. Members serve on committees and on G. H. I.'s board of directors.
Placed ByGreenbelt Museum
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 3:13am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 337865 N 4318667
Decimal Degrees39.00201667, -76.87238333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 0.121', W 76° 52.343'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 0' 7.26" N, 76° 52' 20.58" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301, 240, 410
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1 Hamilton Pl, Greenbelt MD 20770, US
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