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Fishers company builds sustainable homes for Kentucky tornado victims

Workers at Land Betterment Corporation, headquartered in Fishers, delivered four "ekō" homes to Dawson Springs, Kentucky this week.

FISHERS, Ind. — Hundreds of families who lost everything after tornadoes ripped through parts of western Kentucky, now have the daunting task of finding a place to call home. Help is pouring in from across the country, including from a central Indiana company.

Land Betterment Corporation, headquartered in Fishers, has come up with a unique way to put people in homes in just a matter of days by restoring and rehabbing old shipping containers.

The "ekō" homes, which can sleep up to four people, come with a bedroom, full kitchen, bathroom, shower, living room and more.

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"People need homes for Christmas, people need homes in general," said Mark Jensen, chairman of Land Betterment Corporation.

Jensen said the company initially donated four homes to people in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, to live in — rent-free — for the next six months. The first two were delivered Monday, and the second two were delivered Tuesday.

Jensen said the first unit went to a teacher and her three children.

"Her kids are scattered throughout the city with, thankfully, relatives and neighbors who are housing them. We're going to be able to put her up in a home for Christmas with her family, which is an amazing experience to see," Jensen said.

A lot of work goes into designing the interior of the homes.

"Space is very, very precious in a lot of these homes, so coming up with creative solutions for storage becomes very critical. Looking at a half-inch extra in a bathroom makes a huge difference," said Pete Rodriguez, project lead for ekō.

"If we can bring two to three homes in each week, and bring 50 families placed in a home that they can sleep in, have a warm bed and a warm shower, to me, that's a goal worth tackling," Jensen said.

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"The beauty of the nature of the home is the versatility. We can rapidly deploy these within a matter of four days. We could roll out three homes a week to these regions and provide really nice, high standard of living for these communities that are going through transition," said Kirk Taylor, benefit director of Land Betterment Corporation.

The company is in the process of designing four housing developments in eastern Kentucky on former coal mining sites with the goal of building ekō homes across the country.

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