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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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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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Blazing Trails & Breaking Glass Ceilings

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Another HBCU Grad & Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated member advances up the ranks.

Rosalind (Roz) Brewer, Board of Directors at Amazon and the current Chief Operating Officer for Starbucks will be leaving her position at the end of February to become the new CEO for Walgreens (Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.). Brewer is set to begin her new role in March. She will be the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company at this time.

Before becoming COO at Starbucks in 2017, Brewer’s accomplishments include her 22-year career at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, being the first Black and first woman to lead a Walmart business unit, she was president and CEO of Sam’s Club, and she previously served on the boards of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Molson Coors Beverages Co. Brewer’s work has focused on increasing minority representation in the workforce especially in leadership, expanding diversity, and growing companies and making them more competitive. In 2013, Brewer was named one the World’s Most Powerful Women by Forbes

Brewer is a 1984 graduate of Spelman College and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

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Michele Ghee New CEO of Ebony / Jet Magazine

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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Bridgeman Sports & Media has installed Michele Ghee as CEO of iconic brands EBONY & JET.  This historically rooted brand celebrates 75 years of chronicling Black life in America. With that, it now embarks on its future with Ghee boldly holding the reigns.  A brand known for unapologetically documenting the courageous contribution of Blackness to the American landscape, its new CEO states,  “Everything we say will come through the lens of Black journalists. We will ensure there is a safe space for Black journalism to thrive. I’m a little Black girl from Oakland, CA. I’m not apologizing for any of it. Our voices matter. We are History in the making!” 

Michele Ghee, Photo Credit: Maya Darasaw

I’m a little Black girl from Oakland, CA. I’m not apologizing for any of it. Our voices matter. We are History in the making!Tweet this

This titan of industry understands the privilege and responsibility of stepping into a leadership role within the culturally embedded Ebony and Jet brands. “Mr. Johnson was a visionary who operated with courage. He made a commitment to the Black American journey and in the process, he left an unforgettable legacy,” says Ghee. 

According to the new CEO, Ebony and Jet will hold true to those simple fundamental principles of documenting stories of Black Culture as it raises the brands’ profile to reach a global community. “Our brands’ main responsibility will be to focus completely on what our beloved audience wants and needs with bold informed editorial, brilliant content, and the opportunity to connect with like minded people. Paying homage to Mr. Johnson’s legacy means that my team will carve-out and create our own path. We will NOT succumb to the status quo.”

Of this appointment new owner Eden Bridgeman states, “We are honored to have Michele Ghee at the helm to steward these iconic brands. With a proven track record over a storied career thus far and a passion to bring her life experiences to Ebony and Jet we are excited at the future she will create. The next chapter of Ebony and Jet’s history will be told for generations to come and having her continue to authentically document, innovate, and uplift the culture will be keys to our success.”   

(PRNewsfoto/EBONY & JET MAGAZINE)

Michele Thornton Ghee is proud and honored to serve as the CEO of 1145 Holdings LLC. The company includes all assets related to Ebony and Jet. She is charged with creating the vision and activating the strategy for these iconic brands as she steers them into the 21st century. The Brand value proposition will be embedded in Information|Inspiration|Inclusion. Ghee has worked in the media and entertainment space for over a quarter of a century. She has generated billions of dollars in revenue while working for some of the most powerful companies in the world including WME, CNN, A&E, The History Channel and BET Networks. While at BET, Michele created and ran the first and only network for black women: BETHer. This award-winning titan of industry is an expert in many areas including; leadership, culture, strategy, customer service, revenue generation, diversity, equity and inclusion and relationship building.  She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband Tony and two kids Taylor and Jordan.

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