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.


  1. freshair says:

    I feel it’s safe to conclude the new no overnight parking ordinance citywide is a declation of guilt by Family Ties and its alleged affliliates. 

    Many SSI recipients enjoy this lifestyle and now are no longer an asset. Notice that no real solutions were ever implemented to help resolve the homeless situation, perpetually being stalled. 

    All in the name of collecting further unreported cash in the form of charitable donations largely collected through fund raising activities held for Friends of the Prado Day Center! 

    Thank God Lisa Niesen slipped and lied on the recent tax filing of her non profit organization associated with CAPSLO. 

    Time awaits now for justice to prevail. May San Luis Obispo’s image as the “Happiest City in America” experience a rebirth with a true sense of pride and integrity. The time has come for a thorough overhaul.

    *May the homeless truly receive the care they deserve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

    • givemeabreak says:

      I say GRAND JURY…GRAND JURY….GRAND JURY. Is anyone reporting all of this to the GJ? I have been informed by a very reputable legal source in town that this should be reported. Cal Coast News you seem to have all of the documentation. Have you reported all of this? If not let’s get on it!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  2. SLOBIRD says:

    With Biz Steinberg issuing a meo today telling all employees this is all a lie an if anyone asks anything hey should say so. Jan Marx telling people that CCN is all ties and none of it is true and John Ashbugh, Dan Carpenter and Adam Hill all being quiet church mice I suspect that if they keep telling themselves “it all lies” that they are saying a Hail Mary that this will just go away although I think this may be too big for even the Hail Mary.

    By the way, where is Brother Ted? Brother, these are less of us and I would have thought you would have something to say about this, no?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 5

  3. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Thank you CalCoast News for bringing this to light.

    This sounds like a huge abuse of power and since federal money is involved perhaps the RICO laws apply?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 2

  4. taxpayer says:

    Hodin……There must be a political cartoon here somewhere with this list of public officials involved in CAPSLO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 3

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      I’m thinking there must be a month’s worth of political cartoons there myself ….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 4

      • taxpayer says:

        You could have dominoes falling over with the names Hill, Torres, Niesen, Ashbaugh, etc. all leading to the CAPSLO building.

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

        • taxpayer says:

          How about a scene from Alice in Wonderland with Dee, Lisa and Biz all hitting croquet balls with the word “homeless” on them through some hoops while Adam Hill, dressed as the Queen, shouts,”Off with their heads”?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  5. Mr. Holly says:

    I think we all are missing something here. Where are the usually vocal Adam Hill and John Ashbaugh on this issue?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 4

    • MaryMalone says:

      Adam Hill likes to do his dirty, cowardly attacks on CCN under the “cover of darkness”….behind the scenes, via email, etc.

      Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from my mother, who was a very, very politically savvy political activist:

      “Cowards do under the cover of darkness what they fear to do in the light of day.”

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  6. givemeabreak says:

    Even Phoebe did not trust the county
    http://www.newtimesslo.com/cover/2388/phoebes-side/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  7. givemeabreak says:

    Lisa Niesen even had her dirty little hands involved with
    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/04/local/me-hearst4

    She has no boundaries….rich or poor ….what a SCUMBAG

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  8. pismo20 says:

    Questions county and city officials need to answer:

    How could you have let this go on when you have had complaints for over a decade?

    When will the county go over all Niesen’s county guardian accounts?

    Are both the city and the county financially responsible for keeping people in homelessness because they are not left enough money after being forced in case management for the basics while this group keeps their cash cows in homelessness?

    Questions CAPSLO and Family Ties needs to answer:

    How can you require someone continue to give SSI money to you after the $2,000 limit has been reached?

    Who deems all homeless people in the county mentally incompetent?

    Why does someone stay in case management after they get into housing while Family Ties continues to hold onto a portion of their income?

    Where is the money?

    Why can your agency not get more than a few people into housing or help these people get their lives together while spending $59 million a year mostly on salaries?

    How can you be so cold?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 58 Thumb down 5

    • MaryMalone says:

      I would think submitting a complaint/request for investigation to the SLOCo Grand Jury would be in order. It seems like a topic the GJ would investigate.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

      • kayaknut says:

        The only problem is that most public officials just ignore the findings of the Grand Jury

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  9. ironyman2000 says:

    Always ALWAYS keep Dee Torres in mind when these things emerge. Arrogant liar
    that she is, she’s behind all of it. God only knows what type of parenting Torres
    received to come of age with such an undeveloped conscience. Then there’s poor
    little Else Mai Curry who tries to stay low while under the thumb of Torres. I also ask
    those who voted for Hill “Who ARE you people?”
    It’s way past time to disband CAPSLO as an unstoppable malignancy on the soul
    of SLO city and county. A new organization should be built, from scratch, under
    proper oversight.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 7