Treehouse preps to spread its reach with new development in Boston

  • A preliminary rendering of Treehouse Boston, which is being constructed at a former state hospital in Mattapan. The intergenerational community will include 40 senior housing units, 12 foster family housing units and eight transitional age youth units. Mass Design Group

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2023 5:43:14 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Board members, volunteers and staff at the Treehouse Foundation have been walking with swagger in recent weeks thanks to significant statewide recognition for its intergenerational community in Easthampton Meadows.

Not long after the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released a June 6 report calling the nonprofit’s intergenerational community model “exemplary,” the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network nominated the Treehouse for an Excellence and Advocacy Award.

Established in 2006, the intergenerational community is a planned neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, adolescents and elders support each other.

The foundation, along with state Sen. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, and state Rep. Daniel Carey, D-Easthampton, celebrated Treehouse’s recognition as well as the organization’s effectiveness at a legislative breakfast late last week.

“After 17 years of doing this work and coming to Treehouse and crisscrossing the state and sharing what intergenerational community living is all about, I’m so excited that we have the opportunity to not only celebrate our 17 anniversary here in Easthampton, but to also be expanding to Boston,” said Treehouse Founder and CEO Judy Cockerton. “We want to build as many communities across the commonwealth as we can, so that many more people have the opportunity to live connected joyous lives of belonging.”

While talking about the future, speakers reflected on the past and what led the organization to where it is today. An emotional Christy Boudreau, a member of Treehouse’s board of directors, spoke to the impact of Treehouse Easthampton.

Comparably, the national high school graduation average for youth in foster care is 58%, while the average for students who have grown up in Treehouse Easthampton is 95%, she said.

One hundred percent of Treehouse youth are attending college or vocational training, while the national average is fewer than 10%

“The biggest number of all: 100% have a forever home. Zero people aged out. Zero. In 17 years,” Boudreau said, struggling to fight back tears. “These numbers have ripple effects — and I never cry at numbers.”

Over the years, the nonprofit has been recognized by a number of organizations including the American Association of Retired Persons as well as the Federal Department of Health and Human Services for outstanding accomplishments in achieving permanent residency for children waiting in foster care.

Following the breakfast, attendees were invited to discuss ways that the intergenerational community living model becomes more available across the state and several legislators took a tour of the Treehouse community.

In addition to Velis and Carey, also in attendance was: state Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton; Mindy Domb, D-Amherst; and Patricia Duffy, D-Holyoke; and state Sens. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Jake Oliveira, D-Ludlow.

Velis and Carey were present at the Easthampton nonprofit more than one year ago after Treehouse received a $2 million infusion from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act to help the organization replicate its intergenerational community model in the eastern part of the state.

Cockerton announced at Friday’s event that the future site would be located on the grounds of the former state hospital in Mattapan, located next to the Massachusetts Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Treehouse Foundation has proposed to include 40 senior housing units, 12 foster family housing units and eight transitional age youth units. The site is currently under development and is slated to open sometime between 2026 and 2027.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at


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