By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An army of volunteers has taken over the 2000 block of North 62nd Street in Overbrook, repairing and improving more than 30 houses, as part of a project to keep urban neighborhoods thriving.

“Nobody believes you’re going to do free work,” says Carrie Rathmann, executive director of ‘Rebuilding Together,’ a non-profit that marshalls volunteers and sponsors to do the kinds of fix-ups that mean the difference between a healthy neighborhood and one in decline.

Forty percent of the houses in the city were bought before 1930, and Rathmann says long time residents face stark choices.

“Homeowners who’ve lived here for many years but have limited financial resources now are facing tough choices between keeping up a house and other basic needs,” she says.

Resident Andrea Spencer has lived here 14 years, but her husband was laid off and times are tight. She says the team agreed to do repairs the family never could have afforded.

“We are getting a roof, painting, a leaky faucet repair,” Spencer says. “This is a time I never will forget, just the feeling of unity like our neighborhood belongs to the world around us.”

Spencer says she hopes some day to be able to give back.

“The volunteers and contractors have just been so caring, she says. “We’re just so thankful.”

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