IES Helps MetroWest & CAN-DO Nonprofits to Merge

Nonprofits Announce Merge to Better Meet Affordable Housing Needs

Long-time Newton-based nonprofit Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization (CAN-DO) announces its affiliation, as of January 1, with Metro West Collaborative Development, Inc., also of Newton. Both organizations say that their affiliation move will help grow and support affordable housing in the area.  On February 1 Metro West will take over management of the CAN-DO properties through its offices on Chapel Street in Newton.

“CAN-DO was attracted to becoming an organization with a more diverse collection of income sources and the opportunity of working in numerous towns said Susan Davidoff, president of the CAN-DO board of directors.  “CAN-DO will not change its name and will continue to own its properties, but it is now an affiliate of Metro West,”

After consultation with its corporate and individual contributors, partner organizations, and appointed and elected officials, the CAN-DO board of directors determined that the best way forward was to affiliate with another nonprofit housing organization.  This move is the culmination of a process commenced by CAN‑DO three years ago, in response to the growing challenges associated with developing affordable housing in Newton and the anticipated retirement of its co-founder and long-time executive director, Josephine McNeil.

“Both organizations believe that their long-term sustainability will be improved by an affiliation,” said CAN-DO executive director Josephine McNeil. McNeil will officially retire as of February 1, but will continue to serve as CAN-DO’s executive director emeritus through June to help with the transition and organize CAN-DO’s 14th Annual Celebration. McNeil was one of the organizing members of CAN-DO and its first president of the board of directors.

“Metro West was attracted to the idea of working in the largest municipality in its catchment area,” said Jennifer Van Campen, executive director of Metro West. “Working with CAN-DO in Newton increases the opportunities for both organizations.”

Metro West and CAN-DO received funding from LISC to explore and facilitate the process of merging their two organizations.  They hired Interim Executive Solutions (IES) which provided N. Paul TonThat, Barbara Thornton and Christian Dame to assist the organizations in designing a process to step through the questions, concerns, community, financial and legal hurdles involved in the merger.

CAN-DO  was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit developer of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Newton. The organization has created 44 housing units in Newton, including transitional housing for victims of domestic violence, a congregate building for individuals with developmental disabilities, permanent rental apartments, and condominium units. Thirty-seven of these units are deed-restricted and will remain affordable in perpetuity.

Metro West Collaborative Development is a regional nonprofit community development corporation whose mission is to develop 100 units of affordable housing over the next five years in its 21 partner communities, and to encourage economic development that improves neighborhoods. Metro West has developed 57 affordable homes and apartments since 2003.

Each organization will continue to exist as an independent entity but will share an interlocked board that will govern both. Each organization will also continue to independently own its properties and to abide by the agreements pertaining to those properties.

On February 1 Metro West will take over management of the CAN-DO properties through its offices on Chapel Street in Newton.  The affiliation does not affect the requirements of occupancy nor impose any tenant re-screenings or new income certifications from tenants, except as regularly scheduled

Under the affiliation, the chairperson of the combined board will, for at least the first three years, be a resident of Newton. The agreement also provides that the combined board will establish a Support Services Subcommittee that will guide and oversee the combined organizations’ commitment to service-enriched housing. CAN-DO currently collaborates with local social service organizations and others to provide services to residents in several of its properties with the goal of securing more stable futures for themselves and their families. The goal of the subcommittee is to expand these services to all CAN-DO residents.

Each organization will retain the charitable contributions it raises. CAN-DO’s will continue to fund development and advocacy efforts in Newton.

CAN-DO will sponsor its annual fundraising gala, Yes In My Backyard, on March 12 at the Marriott in Newton. Tickets can be obtained by visiting

The Metro West Collaborative Development offices are located at 79-B Chapel Street, Newton.

For information call Jennifer Van Campen (Metro West Collaborative Development, Inc.)  617-923-3505 x 4