Family Ties director says she was never on board

February 16, 2013

irs fraudKeeping them homeless

By KAREN VELIE, JOSH FRIEDMAN and DANIEL BLACKBURN

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series about San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services and the nonprofits managing the program.)

Family Ties, the local nonprofit charged with protecting the financial interests of homeless and indigent people’s assets has a board of directors that does not exist.

One of the three people listed as board members says she is not a member of the board and that she did not know the nonprofit ever was formed.

Jana Hanson, a local physician, was identified on a 2010 IRS 990 tax form as Family Ties’ chief financial officer. But Hanson says she never served.

“It came as quite a surprise that Neisen is filing IRS returns with me as the CFO,” Hanson wrote in an email to CalCoastNews. “I am consulting an attorney to see how this information needs to be corrected in any documents she may have filed.”

Neisen is listed as president and one of the three board members. The third board member, identified by Family Ties as Deborah Jett, has not been located despite sophisticated data base searches. Jett is listed as the vice president of the nonprofit.

Family Ties, owned and operated by Lisa Neisen, acts in association with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) to deal with housing and related issues for the area’s homeless. In that role, Family Ties acts as designated substitute payee for numerous individuals, handling Social Security funds, income and general assistance money for those who ask to utilize CAPSLO’s homeless services.

Hanson said Niesen approached her between 10 and 15 years ago and told her she was planning to start a nonprofit that would help people in need of a guardian who did not qualify to be processed through the county. Niesen also is a full-time San Luis Obispo County employee, serving as chief deputy public guardian and managing finances for the mentally ill and the disabled.

“I did agree to be on her board of directors when she first applied for nonprofit status many years ago, but never received notification of any board meetings, reviewed any financial statements or had any role in the corporation,” Hanson wrote. “In fact, I have not seen Ms. Niesen nor had any communication with her in nearly a decade. I assumed her nonprofit never got off the ground or she found someone else to be on the board.”

Federal laws require that in order to operate as a 501(c)(4) and receive tax exempt status, nonprofits must have at least a three-person board of directors that meets a minimum of once a year, records meeting minutes and maintains other specified public records.

Neisen has not responded to repeated phone calls from reporters.

For years, CAPSLO officials have required homeless clients in need of shelter to provide 50 to 70 percent of their income to Neisen and Family Ties. The funds are supposed to go into an account to be used to get the client into housing.

Family Ties’ organizational statement claims all of its clients have “been deemed unable to manage their funds due to their disability or mental disease,” according clients as “incapable.” Family Ties has failed to name individuals responsible for issuing that particular classification.

Homeless clients and even some case managers have complained for years that money placed in trust by CAPSLO with Family Ties, has been embezzled. Administrators with CAPSLO have not responded to questions about alleged missing funds. CAPSLO officials contend they do not charge the homeless for services and that money saved for clients belongs to clients.

Keeping Them Homeless, the series.


95 Comments

  1. ajdury says:

    And yet she’s still listed as an officer as recently as their 2012 return filed on 11/13/13

    http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Search.aspx?facility=Y

    (Admin edit: broken link For some reason search results can not be linked to, changed link to search form)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. freshair says:

    Enter AB-5, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act:

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB5

    (admin edit: link repair)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. ReelView says:

    Wow, and to think the story isn’t even over yet! Ya know, this should go to a video or something, huh? I mean seriously, it should be broadcast! Tell the whole country how corrupt America’s Happiest City is! Hmmm! Wonder what Oprah would say then. Accepting and Tolerant my A**! Besides, who here saw that video? That was Jenny McCarthy anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  4. obispan says:

    “Biz” as usual, what a racket…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

  5. HML says:

    Several recent comments note that the SLO city council members stalled and never actually came up with any solutions to helping the homeless. Exactly! Not only did they stall and refuse to come up with solutions but they refused to look into all of these valid accusations. Worse, they even gave CAPSLO more money during this scandal. How corrupt they are!

    Please keep in mind that John Ashbaugh read a long letter of denial from Biz Steinberg at a city council meeting when this story broke despite Jan Marx telling him to make it quick. He sits on CAPSLO’s board. He is a friend of Adam Hill and Dee Torres. He voted to give CAPSLO more money despite the allegations. He voted against the homeless time and time again.

    Dan Carpenter also has questionable relationships with both CAPSLO and Friends of Prado Day Center. He publicly trashed CCN at a city council meeting when this story broke. He voted to give CAPSLO more money despite this scandal. He voted against the homeless time and time again.

    One word: RECALL. Who has the knowledge to lead a RECALL effort?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 7

    • freshair says:

      Laugh out loud.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

      • givemeabreak says:

        Dear “freshair” ………….sorry you think this is all so funny….OBVIOUSLY you have “Family Ties” with the SLO County Public Guardian. Nothing to ‘LAUGH” about.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  6. Niles Q says:

    Cindy, the story says Family Ties is a 501 C-4 not C-3. There’s a big difference. A 501 C-3 is a true charity, public benefit corporation. All volunteers, no assets, nop payroll. ALL the money taken in goes to the mission of the non-profit.
    I think you’ll find that a C-4 can and is run more like a business, with employees, payrolls, assets (possibly), and such.
    The difference also is that a true business provides goods and services paid for by consumers and does so (hopefully) at a profit.
    But a C-4 takes in donations, grants and some contractual arrangements with governments, to provide services that are part of entitlements (like SSI, disability, etc…) and they can’t rack up profits from it. Whatever isn’t spent on employees, office expenses, etc… must be spent on the clients.
    Still, the requirements for boards of directors, meetings, record-keeping and accounting, etc… still apply. Records should be public no matter and the whole deflection of CCN by CAPSLO’s finance guy is probably something that will have to be broken by court order.
    The grand jury is another possibility because it has subpeona powers and DA investigators that work with them.
    But I think the GJ just finished its term and a new one is being chosen. So all you CCN bloggers have a chance to apply and possibly put some teeth into that toothless tiger.
    Or someone needs to just file a lawsuit to get to the bottom of this.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks, I missed the (c)(4) status. Not much of a difference except your average citizen can’t write off a cash contribution. What is interesting is that a group contributing it’s services to a 501(c)(4) can write off any contributions as a “business expense”! Considering the nature of the business, it would be far more likely that benefits to associates would be better served under the currents (c)(4) status.

      Wonder if there are any groups involved in public charity/service who are taking the write off ? If so, I wonder who that would be and why they would even need a BUSINESS EXPENSE WRITE OFF?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

    • taxpayer says:

      The biggest difference between a 501(c)3 and a 501(c)4 is that a 501(c)4 can legally involve itself in political agendas.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

    • givemeabreak says:

      http://slocourts.net/downloads/grand_jury/forms/gj_complaint01.pdf
      In addition contact social security and the IRS for just beginners!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    • obispan says:

      Sounding more like a racket all the time. Public funds=public accountability, government or government subcontractor.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

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