A socially innovative multigenerational housing community for seniors and families adopting children from foster care has been completed in Easthampton, Mass.

The Easthampton Meadow community was built with seniors and families with foster children in mind. (Photo: Bruce T. Martin Photography)

The Easthampton Meadow community was built with seniors and families with foster children in mind. (Photo: Bruce T. Martin Photography)

Thirteen years in the making, Easthampton Meadow is a master-planned community developed by Beacon Communities of Boston and the Treehouse Foundation in collaboration with the city of Easthampton. This 46-acre village with 17 acres of shared, permanently deed-restricted open space, combines three interconnected neighborhoods and housing options—Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow, The Homes at Easthampton Meadow and seven single-family lots that were sold to buyers to build custom homes.

The award-winning community, which was permitted in part under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing statute, addresses local goals and integrates many sustainable development principals, including deeded open space, higher density development than zoning allowed, a walking/pedestrian system, wetland replication, and Energy Star-rated homes.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and MassHousing provided approximately $16 million in financing and other direct financial support though federal and state low-income housing tax credits. MassHousing specifically provided approximately $5.2 million in loans for Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow and The Homes at Easthampton Meadow.

The community is the brainchild of Judy Cockerton, founder and executive director of the Treehouse Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to “re-envisioning” foster care. She based the idea of the development on Hope Meadows, a similarly planned neighborhood in central Illinois.

Easthampton Meadow’s latest phase is the Homes at Easthampton Meadow. In 2010, Beacon Communities approached Transformations, Inc., to develop energy-efficient single-family housing at Easthampton Meadow and to make the homes capable of attaining Net Zero energy consumption.

Between January 2011 and February 2015, 33 homes were built and sold, including nine designated as affordable for first-time buyers. The homes were built utilizing a high-tech building envelope, designed and proven by Transformations to help minimize not only the heating and cooling loads but the loss of heat by using advanced insulation specifications. Homes were all outfitted with Energy Star compliant fixtures and appliances as well as Water Sense plumbing fixtures. The heating and air conditioning systems were optimized for both efficiency and comfort.

Homebuyers of 11 of the 33 homes also opted to install solar panels on their dwellings.

"Although it took us longer to complete this project than we anticipated, this is a project that was well worth doing and we are very proud of what we have accomplished. This community has and will continue to have a profound impact on the lives of many, many people,” said Pam Goodman, CEO of Beacon Communities, in a statement.

"The completion of this multi-phased community is a remarkable accomplishment on many different levels," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "Beacon Communities and its development team created top-quality, highly energy efficient housing for senior citizens and families, particularly for those who have selflessly taken mentoring, fostering and adoption roles in the lives of foster children who are among the most vulnerable members of our society."

The recently completed homes join Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow, which has been occupied since 2006 and has matured into a stable mixed-income rental community. Treehouse was designed to help move children out of foster care into permanent loving families, provide enhanced post-adoption support to their families, and ensure that elders have the opportunity to live connected, engaged and purposeful lives. Over the past nine years more than 100 people, ranging in age from newborn to 96, have invested in one another's health and well-being.

Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow offers 60 apartment homes, comprised of 48 one-bedroom cottages for people ages 55 and older, and 12 multi-bedroom townhouses for families. Of the 12 family townhomes, six are affordable and six are rented at market rates. All of the one-bedroom apartments are affordable.