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One of Three Communities Built by the Federal Government to Create Jobs During the Depression Looks

Seven decades ago, trying to create jobs during the Great Depression, the federal government briefly went into the business of building communities. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted to establish areas where families could live and have the option to purchase a home.

The administration built and later sold three communities, each near a city of some size. They are: Greenhills, north of Cincinnati; Greenbelt, near Washington, D.C.; and Greendale, Wisconsin, southwest of Milwaukee.

Municipal manager for the village of Greenhills, Ohio, Jane Berry, says her community is taking steps to sustain itself into the future. Berry says Greenhills has 4,000 residents, and about a dozen of 1700 homes entered foreclosure in recent months. In the early part of this decade, village officials purchased about 135 homes.

Now, Berry says, they are buying the area's only commercial interest - a shopping center to help shore up the community's finances.

The redevelopment effort is expected to continue even with a new mayor and new member of village council taking office next week. Berry says both have already been part of the comprehensive plan to reinvent Greenhills. That plan addresses nine strategic areas from education to recreation to redevelopment. The plan is 184 pages long.