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Living Inside the Box

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

Local entrepreneur aims to bring more shipping container homes to S.A.

It’s no secret that in San Antonio and much of the nation home prices are on the rise. Affordability is an issue in many communities, and this has led to thinking outside of the box when it comes to creating housing that is both affordable and appealing. The tiny house option is one way some are downsizing their living space as well as their debt. Shipping container homes are another unique dwelling option.

Though not a new concept, these homes are not common in the San Antonio area, but master designer Anya K. Bartay wants to change that. She has designed a house on the East Side using two shipping containers, and she also can incorporate several of the 40′ x 8′ containers to build a multi-level home that’s as big as a traditional house. The base price for a 2,000 square-foot home is around $220,000.

Her love of design and architecture began when she was a child. She spent part of her childhood in Panama and said that experience helped her appreciate the value of what we have in the United States.

She also credits her life in Panama with spurring the creation of Project N.O.A.H which stands for Net Zero Affordable Housing. Bartay stresses she is not designing government housing but housing that is affordable.

One of the homes she designed sits on the East Side and will become an Airbnb rental so that people can see what a shipping container home is like before they buy one. And soon, Bartay and her family will move into a container home she is building in Northeast San Antonio. It will be a model home she and her family will be living in for a year to provide data on how the house impacts the environment.

“We’re going to work with UTSA, CPS, Eco Central on monitoring all of the systems that are going to be implemented in that house. The solar, the rainwater collection to see how much is real, how much we use. To see how less of an impact we create with that house.”

Bartay recently discussed her plans to bring more shipping container homes to San Antonio.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m working on a partnership with a factory that is already building shipping container homes to facilitate my need for the construction and to help them with their need for sales. We do have a subdivision that we have in mind. The owners of that property (on the Southside) said they will give us the land and we will create a neighborhood.

Q: Why would someone choose to buy a shipping container home?

A:  The first thing is safety. The container is resistant to tornados, hurricanes, torrential winds. Lots of construction won’t withstand those different disasters.

Q: How do people react to your project?

A: When I give them a proper understanding of what container homes could look like, their reaction is wonderful.

Q:  How did you become interested in building shipping container homes?

A: What I did was start doing searches and finding out what would be acceptable to present to people I worked with who needed a little bit of financial assistance getting their architectural needs met. So, shipping containers came up.

Q: Have you talked to city officials?

A:  I have presented this to Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert Jr., Senator Jose Menéndez, Neighborhood Housing Services of America and SAHA. And they’ve all agreed to using it.

Q: So how did you get training to build these homes?

A:  Once I had a nonprofit ask me about my designs, and then I got an investor. I looked up the details on YouTube and I put them into practice and started doing the work myself. I’ve been drawing it for years, so it’s just doing it now.

Q: Describe your style

A: I have 75 percent masonry on the outside and all the different means that everyone has for permanent housing. We are embedded into the foundation. And one of the biggest things is that we provide a thermal insulation coating and a rust-o proof coating for the container so that we avoid mold or any kind of disease.

Q: How much would a basic container home cost?

A: $110 a square foot (40-foot long containers are used). We have closing costs and money down assistance for an FHA or conventional loan.

Q: What type of foundation do the homes have?

A: We can do piers if you have elasticity in the soil. And you can do a regular slab on grade if you have nice solid bedrock.

Q: How long does it take to complete?

A: It should take no more than three months, but we’re going to be striving for one and a half. Most of the construction happens in one day. If it’s a custom, we’ll say three to six months.

Q: What are some of the things you can do to customize a container home?

A: Instead of sheetrock, you may want to use wood paneling, or put brick on the outside, or have an accent wall. You can do a lot of different variations of finishes.

Q: Do you help clients come up with a design?

A:  We try to help get the psychology behind the client’s needs and implement it into the design.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson Realtors. If you are planning to buy or sell, feel free to contact her at 210-380-9006 or 
lhrivas@realsa.com

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Get In the Mix

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The world is back open for business and it’s time for all to get back to the grind. Maybe you’re looking to start a new career, get some fresh ideas, find some partners, boost your own business, or just want to meet some great people, The Mix: Business Culture is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house or office. Saturday, July 10th Blackbook Studios is hosting a mixer featuring several business owner’s, author’s, financial specialists, vendors, and entrepreneurs. It’s a great time to network with businesses that survived the pandemic, are braving new start-ups, and those who’ve been in business for some time. There will be a live Dj, food, business showcases, and presenters in the building to offer best practices and more. Goodie bags and an opportunity to win some prizes is also available.

The cost is just $10. Tickets may be purchased online via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-mixx-business-culture-tickets-157444742463?aff=ebdssbdestsearch or at the door.  For more information or to reserve a vendor space call (210) 226-1939.

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City Budget- Your Input Is Important

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City of San Antonio invites residents to participate in virtual FY 2022 budget telephone town hall meetings

The City of San Antonio will host two virtual telephone town hall meetings to inform the public about the Fiscal Year 2022 budget development process, answer public questions and gather input. The virtual meetings will include telephone town hall features, which allow residents to register in advance and receive a call when it’s time to join the event. City Manager Erik Walsh, Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez and Budget Director Scott Huizenga will lead the public meeting. 

The meetings will be held Tuesday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 23 at 6 p.m. Residents can register here to participate at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FY2022telephonemtg. Registration closes three hours prior to each event. 

“Telephone town hall meetings are a convenient way to hear directly from our residents, from the comfort of their homes. Each of our residents leads a busy life, whether that’s tending to their families, commuting to and from work, balancing schoolwork, or other priorities. These telephone town hall events allow the public to participate wherever they are,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “The annual budget process sets the framework for our work in the community and our strategic goals.”

The City also opened a brief budget survey, which will remain open through June 21, 2021. The survey gives residents the opportunity to weigh in on their service priorities, as well as share their thoughts on restoring programming from budget cuts made in FY 2020 and FY 2021. City residents can take the survey on www.saspeakup.com or by texting SASpeakUp to 55000 to take the survey on their mobile devices.

More information about the telephone town hall meetings and survey are available at www.saspeakup.com.

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Providing Shelter

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City, partner agencies prepared to provide shelter to homeless during cold night

SAN ANTONIO (February 10, 2021) – The City of San Antonio and its partner agencies are prepared to provide access to shelter and services to those experiencing unsheltered homelessness as the National Weather Service expects much colder conditions across the region beginning tonight and into the upcoming weekend, as an arctic airmass moves south into Texas.

There are chances for showers and even thunderstorms on Thursday as an upper-level disturbance moves over the region. Best chances for wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow is likely to be late Sunday into Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

“The City’s Department of Human Services and its partner agencies in homeless services assist individuals facing homelessness by providing outreach, developing a relationship, and offering services daily,” City Manager Erik Walsh said. “In critical situations like severe weather, the City and our partners work even harder to reach those who are unsheltered and direct them to a safe and warm shelter.”

Haven for Hope is open for all individuals experiencing homelessness. All clients sleep indoors and are given cold-weather clothing, including warm jackets.  

New clients should present to Haven for Hope’s Intake (currently operating out of the Donation Center at 1 Haven for Hope Way) between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Households with children are welcome at Haven for Hope any time of the day or evening, 24/7.

After hours and on weekends, individualized services are available, to include cold-weather sleeping accommodations and cold-weather kits (sleeping bags, hand warmers, snacks and hygiene products). With the imminent cold weather, after hours sleeping will be expanded.

In addition, the Salvation Army Dave Coy Men’s Shelter provides overnight shelter at 226 Nolan St. Nightly enrollment begins at 3 p.m. daily through 8 p.m. Individuals will have access to restroom and shower facilities, hygiene products, a bed with clean linens and meals. Individuals must be 18 years or older and provide a picture ID at the time of enrollment.

The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), in partnership with the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services, organized a collection drive for cold weather materials, including jackets, blankets, socks, and more. These items are available for street outreach workers and those in need at the San Fernando Homeless Resource Hub located at 319 W. Travis St. Community members wishing to donate new cold weather gear can drop off donations at the San Fernando Homeless Resource Hub from Monday to Friday between 1 and 4 p.m. 

The City of San Antonio Department of Human Services’ Homeless Division, Haven for Hope’s Outreach staff, and other street outreach providers, offer assistance that includes encouraging clients to access shelter services, coordinating transportation to shelter intake, and distributing cold-weather gear such as warm jackets and sleeping bags. 

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