- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) - With welders on site, members of Habitat for Humanity made strides toward history for the state organization as they recently worked to convert a shipping container into a home.

“It’s fairly unique,” said Larry Mengel, a volunteer for the organization and project leader. “We’re basically inventing everything we’re doing.”

The home in Elizabethtown is the first of its kind for the statewide organization as part of a larger effort called Veteran Cabin. The program is designed to service families in extreme poverty or homeless veterans.

“These people couldn’t afford Habitat’s base $50,000 home even with a zero percent interest mortgage,” said Mary Shearer, executive director for Kentucky Habitat for Humanity. “There’s no way. There’s no program that can serve them.”

Shearer said more than 2,000 veterans have been recognized throughout the state as homeless and the program is designed to give them a permanent address in a home that may cost less than $25 a month to live. With an address, the veterans can begin receiving benefits they were unable to receive before.

A container on a piece of donated land could cost between $18,500 to $20,000 and a stick-built cabin could run less than $10,000, she said.

“These homes are specifically for the client base we are looking to serve,” Shearer said. “It’s a really incredibly cool concept.”

Homes for these projects could range anywhere between 288 square feet and 360 square feet and are built to be energy efficient.

Once plumbing and electrical wiring is installed in the container home, it will be moved to land about eight miles from Upton near the Hart County line.

The container had to meet all codes for the county and required an engineer to complete the design, Mengel said.

“What we’re building is a prototype,” he said. “It sounds good on paper, but we have to keep modifying as we go.”

Mengel said most of the work on the home will be completed at the temporary Elizabethtown site because it is easier to get volunteers to that location.

Joann Priddy told The News-Enterprise almost a year ago she was thrilled to learn of the amenities the home would contain in comparison to a wood burning stove and an outhouse she currently used.

Priddy’s only income is a small Social Security check, but her former home, which was demolished to make way for her new home, sat on family land, which Priddy owns.

The project has generated interest across the state and she knows others who are interested in the project will be impressed with the final product, Shearer said.

“They’ll be blown away,” she said. “I just think it’s going to be great.”

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Information from: The News-Enterprise, https://www.thenewsenterprise.com

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