Connect with us

Business

Living Inside the Box

Published

on

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

Business

Increasing Financial Literacy is Critical in Black Wealth

Published

on

By

The nation’s 44 million African-Americans account for 13% of the U.S. population and significantly impact the economy, with $1.2 trillion in purchases annually. But the financial well-being of African-Americans lags behind the U.S. population and whites in particular. 

The reason for these gaps is increased financial literacy. According to the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, there is a strong link between financial literacy and financial wellness among African-Americans. The report examines the current state of financial literacy and financial wellness among African-American adults.

The P-Fin Index measures eight key areas of personal finance knowledge: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing and managing debt, insuring, comprehending risk and uncertainty, and go-to information sources.

Personal finance knowledge among African-American adults lags behind that of whites. On average, African-Americans answered 38% of the index questions correctly, with only 28% answering over one-half of the index questions correctly. The comparable figures among whites were 55% and 62%, respectively.

Financial literacy varies across demographic groups within the Black population. The observed patterns are consistent with variations identified in the U.S. population—financial literacy is greater among men, older individuals, more formal education, and higher incomes.

Insurance is the area where personal finance knowledge is lowest among African-Americans. Other areas where knowledge lags are in comprehending risk, investing, and identifying go-to information sources.

Borrowing and debt management is the area of highest personal finance knowledge among Black Americans.

There is a strong link between financial literacy and financial wellness among African-Americans. Those who are more financially literate are more likely to plan and save for retirement, have non-retirement savings, and to manage their debt better; they are also less likely to be financially fragile.

Continue Reading

Business

Saying Goodbye to Another Year and a Positive Future

Published

on

By

Looking back at 2022 gives me much promise. The future looks so bright I have to put on shades. Not only did we just celebrate our 12th edition of the Blackbook Yearbook & Directory last week, but I also look forward to celebrating 30 years of Avista Products in April. 

In the next 10 years, the San Antonio to Austin corridor is expected to generate over $40 billion in extra revenue from the manufacturing sector. That is an average of $4 billion per year. Those who move here or get hired will need to find a new place to live, worship, educate, eat, entertain, etc. I think you get the picture. For 2023 the city of San Antonio’s budget is $3.4 billion. Not bad! The business and the people are coming. I’m hoping the Black business community will also benefit from the growth.

Avista Products is heavily involved in technology, with our roots in graphic design. We have seen a lot of changes in the industry. From the beginning of HTML to the metaverse, the tech world has been exploding with Artificial intelligence or AI. This new technology (AI) has helped us produce graphics based on concepts we thought about. Storytelling is part of our culture. You can literally write the words to describe the image you want to create, and AI will create it for you. This week’s cover combines AI and manual input – possibly a perfect collaboration. Technology will definitely make our lives easier. 

In the famous words of Pastor TD Jakes, “Hold on, I’m not finished.” Recently, scientists have announced nuclear fusion stabilization. Of course, nuclear power is not news, but its waste and stability are a risk to the world that’s already experiencing extreme climate change. This new version does not produce a harmful by-product. It’s like announcing the internet is fully developed. It’s expected it won’t be mainstream for another 20 years, but for the wealthy, they will probably get it in five to 10 years. Can you imagine buying your energy once, passing it down to future generations, or buying gas for your car once? Scientists are also experimenting with computers and smartphones that are 100 times faster and smaller. I’m excited about what the future holds. 

Innovation is also coming from Avista Products and Black Life Texas. We are now in 78 locations citywide, including 41 HEB locations and select Jim’s Restaurants. Stay tuned as we increase our event coverage, stories, and culture-engaged commentary. We are proud to provide the San Antonio community with a product that understands the Black community, recognizes and honors its leaders, and is willing to objectively cover issues you likely won’t see in mainstream media. 

Thank you for being a reader. Happy New Year!

Carl Booker
Owner of Avista Products
Publisher – Black Life Texas and Blackbook Yearbook & Directory

Continue Reading

Business

Online Tool Helps in Finding Grants and Tax Incentives

Published

on

By

Black-owned fintech and finance company Novae LLC announced the launch of a new online tool designed to help small businesses to find grants and tax incentives that can help them to grow exponentially.

Called Novae Grants, the new tool will allow users to search a database of thousands of financial assistance opportunities from both the government and the private sector. Tax credits that small businesses may qualify for will also be included in the database.

Novae founder Reco McCambry says that the grants his team is gathering for inclusion in the database range from $500 to $5 million in size, and are designed to help business owners serve their communities. The grants include town- and city-based grants to revitalize local businesses and create jobs, and federal and think tank grants to support renewable energy, tech, and innovation.

“The idea is to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to locate the support they need to grow,” McCambry says. “Whether you’re a mom and pop shop or a good-sized startup, you may be doing something that one of these agencies wants to promote for the sake of the public good.”

McCambry notes that most of the grants which have so far been located and placed in the Novae Grants database are intended for small businesses with 6-100 employees, though some are also intended for larger businesses and sole proprietor startups.

“We know that local businesses make us more secure,” McCambry told me in our interview, “and we know that innovation often comes from startups. There are a lot of organizations that recognize this and offer funding to support these missions. But not many people know how to find these grants, and many assume they won’t qualify because they aren’t in some specialized public service role. Our mission is to change that and bring this money into our communities.”

The Novae Grants search engine is now available at novaemoney.com. In addition to grants, Novae also helps companies build business credit, provides access to traditional business funding, and offers businesses the ability to provide consumer financing for their high-ticket offerings.

Novae and CEO McCambry’s mission to increase access to financing for businesses and customers in underserved communities has helped the company and its CEO to earn numerous awards and distinctions in recent years. Novae has been included on the Inc 5000 list of the 5000 fastest-growing businesses in America for two years running, while McCambry was recently named Innovator of the Year at the annual Bank Customer Experience Summit and received an Outstanding Leadership Award at Money2.0 this Spring.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics