The Great Depression had devastating affect on the American economy. President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs were designed for relief, recovery, and reform. The Resettlement Administration was one of several new agencies created by the program. Under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, the RA helped relocate farmers, refinance farms, and establish new and more sustainable communities. This last project --the creation of “greenbelt towns”-- was among the agency's most innovative.
The Greenbelt community in Maryland was designed to help sustain traditional families. It included a playground, green space, and close proximity to neighbors. All of these choices were designed to foster a sense of community and connection. As evidence that the program was building stronger families, a report issued in 1942 boasted that the birth rate in Greenbelt was 35 births per 1000 households, as compared to 17 nationwide.