By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — A milestone today for volunteers who are trying to change the narrative in south suburban Harvey; they’re making the streets safer one block at a time.

This grassroots group South Suburban Public Safety Initiative boards up abandoned properties, and says many of have been used for criminal activity.

Saturday morning, volunteers braved the cold at 153rd and Loomis; hammers, saws, plywood, and nails in hand.

They started six months ago with just two houses and a couple sheets of plywood. Now leaders say even they are amazed at their progress.

“Two hundred homes have been closed with donated time, donated plywood, donated funds, and assistance from residents across the city in helping us get this done,” volunteer Christopher Moore said.

“We’ve gotten nothing but praise and thanks from the residents of Harvey for making their blocks safer. They feel they can sleep better at night. They can let their kids play and not wonder about them wandering into one of these homes. They don’t have to worry about someone dragging their child into one of these homes,” volunteer Jason Ross Decker said.

Donations have come from Harvey residents, former residents, and people in neighboring suburbs.

The volunteers are halfway to their goal of closing up 400 vacant homes. They say they’ll be out every Saturday until they do it.

The group is also working on homes in nearby Robbins.

We previously reported that Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark has called the board-ups illegal, because they’re on private property; calling the work a public safety issue, a health risk, and a liability for the city.

CBS 2 reached out to the mayor’s office Saturday for comment about the latest board-ups, but has not heard back.

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