Merger Between Top Metro DC Women’s Shelters Shows Promise

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November 1, 2011; Source: Washington PostThese are two highly respected organizations in the metro DC area. It’s hard to find anyone in DC who doesn’t know about them, who hasn’t driven past one of their facilities, who hasn’t read about their fundraising efforts. Now they are together.

N Street Village is a superb provider of services for homeless woman. Miriam’s House is a high quality organization providing transitional housing for homeless women with HIV and AIDS. Because of the challenge of funding in these times, they are merging. The executive director of N Street Village, Schroeder Stribling, described the merger as “feel[ing] like a marriage,” though it looks as if N Street Village is taking more of the lead in the new organizational structure.

At the time of the merger, Miriam’s House had run through most of its reserves. The financial condition of N Street Village wasn’t quite so dire, but N Street’s manager of foundation and government giving, Tim Marsh (husband of founder Carol Marsh), said that finances were such that the organization was unable to grow. Last November, N Street began offering onsite mental health and employment services at the Miriam’s House transitional facility, partly because Miriam’s House couldn’t provide those services itself.

In the new merged structure, Stribling will be in charge of programming at N Street Village, which provides counseling and assistance to 900 women a year, and at Miriam’s House, which houses 25 homeless women in a transitional 17-bedroom transitional facility. Both programs will operate under the N Street Village moniker, and the Miriam’s House board of directors will be dissolved.

Area funders like the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation have been encouraging local organizations to merge. The Meyer Foundation VP for programs, Rick Moyers, says that eight groups, including N Street Village, have asked the foundation for financial assistance to help with mergers since 2009. As NPQ has often written about, it costs money for nonprofits to merge. Foundations interested in promoting consolidations have to be willing to ante up some of the front-end merger costs.

With the merger, N Street is offering new services that take advantage of Miriam’s House’s HIV/AIDS counseling expertise, and Miriam’s House is benefitting from N Street’s array of services. As these things go, this example may turn out to be a textbook case of a successful merger—Rick Cohen