Boston, MA- In 1987, The Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) was formed in response to a potential change in ownership that threatened the affordability of more than 1500 residents living in a 500-unit, low-income housing complex known as The Castle Square Apartments, located in Boston’s South End. Facing challenging political obstacles, CSTO, in partnership with WinnCompanies, organized a decade-long campaign that ultimately secured the affordability and longevity of resident’s homes. In 2010, CSTO and its resident controlled board became a majority owner and WinnCompanies, the minority owners, of Castle Square Apartments.
“Thirty years ago, WinnCompanies made a commitment to preserve and maintain affordable housing at Castle Square, an invaluable housing resource for families and individuals in need throughout Greater Boston" said Larry Curtis, President and Managing Partner of WinnDevelopment. "Our partnership with the Castle Square Tenants Organization has allowed us to improve both the property itself and the quality of life for its residents."
In June 2012, in partnership with WinnCompanies, CSTO completed the nation’s largest Deep Energy Retrofit on an existing affordable housing community, earning a LEED Platinum Certification (the nation’s highest green building rating) by the U.S. Green Building Council. The redevelopment of the property also spurred the creation of a state of the art youth and community center. During that same year, CSTO implemented a community needs assessment, in order to better understand what residents wanted and needed for programming and services in their community. It is under this backdrop, that CSTO program offerings were designed and implemented.
Launched in the back office of the CSTO administration building, Square Tech was created to provide affordable access to technology to the residents of Castle Square. Receiving computer donations from our partners at WinnCompanies, Wentworth, Tufts Medical, and the Benjamin Franklin Institute, Square Tech hires and trains teen interns to refurbish and make this equipment available to other low-income communities. In training teens, the program aspires to prepare interns for careers in computer science.
"My time at Square Tech was very influential, and I am currently applying to Harvard University to major in computer science," said Eric Tsang, former Square Tech teen intern.
Now, with two full-time employees and eight paid teenage interns, Square Tech has outgrown its space. In another display of WinnCompanies ongoing support, company founder and principal Arthur Winn and Larry Curtis have donated $50,000 towards the renovation of a 1,000-square-foot program space, dedicated to the Square Tech Computer Repair and Training Center. The new space has allowed us to better work towards our goals of building workforce skills for teen interns, spark a foundation of learning, and increase employment opportunities.
"We are proud to partner with the CSTO and Square Tech to expose some of our younger residents to the foundations of computer science,” said Arthur Winn, Founder of WinnCompanies. “Square Tech allows us to provide opportunities for these young adults to develop and cultivate critical technology skills that will allow them to compete in today’s economic landscape.”