Family Ties director says she was never on board

February 16, 2013

irs fraudKeeping them homeless


(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.

    • freshair says:

      Laugh out loud.

      (-7) 17 Total Votes - 5 up - 12 down
      • 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.

        (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
  1. 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.

    (27) 35 Total Votes - 31 up - 4 down
    • 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?

      (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
    • 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.

      (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
    • givemeabreak says:
      In addition contact social security and the IRS for just beginners!

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
      • ironyman2000 says:

        nice of you yo be of service, thank you.

        (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
    • obispan says:

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

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  2. 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.

    (28) 30 Total Votes - 29 up - 1 down
    • 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!

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
  3. 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.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
    • kayaknut says:

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

      (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
  4. 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?

    (31) 41 Total Votes - 36 up - 5 down
  5. 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?

    (42) 46 Total Votes - 44 up - 2 down
  6. taxpayer says:

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

    (27) 33 Total Votes - 30 up - 3 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

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

      (24) 32 Total Votes - 28 up - 4 down
      • taxpayer says:

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

        (27) 35 Total Votes - 31 up - 4 down
        • 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”?

          (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
  7. Mr. Holly says:

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

    (42) 50 Total Votes - 46 up - 4 down
    • 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.”

      (30) 36 Total Votes - 33 up - 3 down
  8. givemeabreak says:

    Even Phoebe did not trust the county

    (19) 25 Total Votes - 22 up - 3 down