CAPSLO soaking up nonprofit fund pool

February 7, 2013
CAPSLO CEO Biz Steinberg and Supervisor Bruce Gibson

CAPSLO CEO Biz Steinberg and Supervisor Bruce Gibson

Keeping them homeless


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

For the duration of its 48-year existence, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) has skirted public scrutiny by assigning to itself the designation of a “private” nonprofit corporation.

That has complicated, but not completely deflected efforts to peel back the layers of CAPSLO’s funding sources and annual expenditures.

California’s Public Records Act specifies that if a private entity performs a public function, was created by a public agency whether directly or indirectly, and receives public revenues, it is considered a public body, subject to California’s openness law.

Jim Famalette, chief operating officer of CAPSLO, denied a public records request in June from local attorney Babak Naficy. Naficy, acting on behalf of a private client, had requested that CAPSLO turn over documents seeking financial details from CAPSLO regarding curious grants to a Morro Bay residence house called Roandoak of God.

Famalette’s denial read in part, “Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo is a private, non-profit corporation, not a government agency. We are required to keep all client information in confidence and cannot release such without the written consent of the client. Our files are reviewed regularly by state and federal agencies as well as our own auditors to insure we are in compliance with all guidelines and regulations of all our varied funding sources.”

By combing public documents from other sources, CalCoastNews has pieced together an emerging picture of some of CAPSLO’s complex fiscal activities. Its programs and activities are not limited to San Luis Obispo County. It has nearly 1,000 employees and operates in nine California counties: Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Kern, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin and Santa Cruz.

And as CAPLSO expands, county and other local government funding for other nonprofit organizations is steadily shrinking.

CAPSLO funds have increased in recent years despite a multi-year economic downturn. CAPSLO’s tax forms show that in fiscal year 2008 the nonprofit brought in $51,499,811 in total revenue. In fiscal year 2011, CAPSLO’s total revenue increased to $59,767,661.

capsloCAPSLO’s expenses have increased proportionally over the same period, rising from $51,482,501 in 2008 to $59,675,218 in 2011.

Employees accounted for more than half of CAPSLO’s nearly $60 million in expenses, to its employees. The nonprofit, with more than 900 employees, paid out $31,479,495 in total compensation to its employees in 2011. Employee costs in 2008 totaled less than $23 million.

The agency also pays for independent contractors to do in-home child care in San Luis Obispo County. Four of their child care providers make over $100,000 a year with the highest paid $128,644.

Most of CAPSLO’s funding comes from government grants. CAPSLO received $56,388,811 in government grants in fiscal year 2011.

In comparison, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, which offers medical, dental and mental health care for low income and uninsured residents throughout San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties, received only $19,432,572 in government grants in fiscal year 2011.

Community Health Centers and North County Connection, which provides drug and alcohol recovery services, have suffered severe funding cuts from the county in recent years. Community Health Centers lost more than half of its county funding since Supervisor Adam Hill, first took office in January 2009. Hill has a relationship with CAPSLO executive Dee Torres, CCN has reported. Community Health Centers received $6,154,248 from the county in 2008, but only $2,783,496 in 2012.

North County Connection, which Hill described as a “racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” organization during a 2012 board of supervisors meeting, lost nearly half of its funding as well. The county contributed $49,058 to the nonprofit in 2008, but only $27,600 in 2012.

In the same period, CAPSLO also endured a county funding cut, dropping from $4,749,254 in 2008 to $3,828,597 in 2012. But the CAPSLO funding did not drop at nearly as sharp a rate as the other local nonprofits. CAPSLO continues to receive more than $1 million more in county funds than Community Health Centers, even though Community Health Centers provides services to more people.

Much of the money the county gives to CAPSLO comes as part of a yearly grant program administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each year HUD provides three different grants as part of a program called the Urban County. The program is supposed to bolster community development, affordable housing and emergency shelters in low income areas. HUD oversees implementation of the grants based on income levels in areas of counties.

The county poverty map compiled by the planning department on behalf of HUD shows that there are six tracts, or areas, in San Luis Obispo County where more than half of the residents have low to moderate income. Yet, since the 2010 census, HUD lists the city of San Luis Obispo as the only location in the county where more than 50 percent of the residents have low to moderate income.

The county map, used in both the 2011 and 2012 Urban County Action Plans, lists the San Miguel, Shandon, Paso Robles and Oceano tracts, in addition to the two San Luis Obispo city tracts as low to moderate income areas. HUD figures, however, show that other than the city of San Luis Obispo, only the Paso Robles tract is even within 10 percentage points of having a majority low to moderate income residents.

Planner Dana Lilley

Planner Dana Lilley

Supervising Planner Dana Lilley, who oversees the creation of the Urban County Action Plan, placed the blame on HUD, saying the county received its income data from HUD.

Another inconsistency appeared on the 2012 action plan. The community development project titles did not match their descriptions. Several projects that did not involve CAPSLO, like sewer and water repair at a Los Osos mobile home park and operation of an Atascadero food pantry, listed CAPSLO as the recipient of the funds.

After CalCoastNews asked Lilley about the inconsistencies, county planners changed the 2012 action plan so that it no longer listed CAPSLO as the agency receiving the funds for the mismatching projects.

In 2012, San Luis Obispo County received $2,641,037 in Urban County funding. Under the umbrella of the Urban County HUD program, CAPSLO received grant money for the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter, the Prado Day Center and its proposed new homeless campus, as well as for community development projects ranging from teen academic parenting to minor home repair. CAPSLO also receives $10,000 annually from the county for its tattoo removal program.

Five cities in the county also participate in the HUD grant program, and four of the five dispersed gave HUD funds to CAPSLO in 2012. San Luis Obispo, which gives CAPSLO more money than any other city in the county, also makes regular practice of giving the organization general fund money on top of the grant funds.

It did so again Tuesday when the council authorized a combined total of more than $200,000 to CAPSLO in grant and general fund money. City staff recommended the council to give CAPSLO additional general fund money because CAPSLO requested more for its existing and proposed homeless shelters than HUD allows the city to allocate/give for those purposes.

Though HUD is currently dispersing less money in its Urban County program than in previous years, CAPSLO is not expected to take a cut in funding. HUD is requiring greater transparency with the projects it funds, so the county plans to issue larger grants to fewer organizations. CAPSLO would be among the organizations receiving larger grants.

Hill supported that idea at a December 2012 board hearing on the 2013 action plan.

“If we’re trying to get our administrative costs down, having less grants to administer is just one of the obvious ways to do so,” Hill said. “But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

CAPSLO originated as part of the ‘60s “War on Poverty” and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. It now lists its activities as services to low income residents, seniors, and people dealing with daily challenges.

The act was amended a year later to facilitate the creation of offices of economic opportunity at the state level. And thus was born CAPSLO. Its programs now include Head Start, an Adult Day Services Center, Energy Services, a Senior Home Repair Program, a Utility Assistance Program, Senior Health Screening, and Forty Wonderful-Health Screening for Women.

Keeping Them Homeless, the series.

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Don’t just look at the salaries of Biz Steinberg and CAPSLO Administrators. Look at the pay and turnover of the line staff as well. There is a reason why they turn over so much and in so doing, the quality of service that CAPSLO delivers is quite exagerated.

I would like to make a comment to Dee Torres in response to several comments she has made in the past couple of days on this site.

I absolutely agree with you that your personal life is yours and I for one have no interest with anyone you are involved with, associated with, or co-mingle with. That is your personal life!

HOWEVER: I am very concerned when two people, be it husband/wife, siblings, partners, etc. have direct influence over funding, programs, rules, regulations and direct results for the positions of power and influence two people working together in this capacity have over the life’s and financially interest of our community anf for each other. This is absolutely wrong and this is my argument against you and Adam Hill. He has control and influence as a member of the BOS for your success and actually benefits from that success as do you and that is totally wrong.


Adam Hill and Dee Torres appear to be engaged in a fraud tag-team against the homeless people of SLO.

Several of your comments on this topic have been based on misconceptions and wild speculations but this one, while somewhat speculative, has merit.

What are the salaries+benefits of Biz Steinberg, Dee Torres and other top staffers of CAPSLO? Are their catered meals at each CAPSLO meeting? How much does that cost annually? Where does that money come from?

Likely we will be told that since CAPSLPO is a private enity they are not required to provide information regarding salaries and benefits, or will the taxpayers be provided information involving money coming in and going out.

I couldn’t find a list of salary ranges, but their audits for the last five years are on their website and include lumped personnel costs for the different programs. All their current job openings are on there too and they list salary ranges for the positions that are open.

Thanks, but that doesn’t answer any of my questions. How much are the current top staff people making, including benefits, and how much do they spend on catered dinners at CAPSLO meetings? Could that money be spent helping people in need?

Earlier this morning CalCoastNews requested under California’s Public Records Act the salaries and related benefits of CAPSLO’s top 50 earners. Like you, we will await CAPSLO’s response.

Thanks. It should answer a lot of questions. I still want to know how much is spent on catered meals for CAPSLO meetings, where that money comes from and is the amount spent enough to pay to allow the homeless a heated room on cold nights. Also, the way I read it, over 50% of all the money given to CAPSLO is spent on the organization and not on the homeless. Am I missing something? How much that huge building they are housed in cost? Could that money have been used to house the homeless?

Good luck. My observations conclude that CAPSLO consists of multiple layers of employees doing very little except vigorously defending their status as a non-governmental organization not subject to any scrutiny. I can tell you many CAPSLO stories that you, nor I, would not believe did I not witness them.

All nonprofit corporations must make copies of their IRS 990 forms available upon request. CAPSLO’s 990 for the year ending 3/31/11 is online through Guidestar at: Since this form was filed on 12/19/11, the 3/31/12 form should be available soon.

The 990 includes the salaries of all employees who earned $100,000 or more. Biz’s salary was $145,038 and her other compensation was $22,377. How much do you think a person who runs a business with a $60 million budget and more than 900 employees should be paid? Less than $170,000 seems very reasonable to me.

Should compensation be based on the number of employees and the total budget? Then the president of the USA should be getting a huge paycheck instead of the $400,000 he earns now. There is of course the $50,000 expense account and the White House. Looks like the president is getting about twice Biz’s expense account. For doing what I ask.

Biz, Dee, Adam, Bruce, all wasted $$$’s. Why do I, an avowed atheist, want all of my social-service tax dollars spent through proven faith-based organizations or directly by the county? Those 4 individuals and their minions.

I bet what they make from CAPSLO is just the tip of the iceberg. They are on lots and lots of other committees.

Kind of like the City of Bell City Council members were doing, and for which they are being prosecuted even as I type.

taxpayer – Your question has merit since public monies go to this organization. If and when these figures do come out and they will, Babak will insist and he will be correct, don’t be surprised to find that the actual salaries will be quite in line with public sector executives in this area- $150K-$200K. And if so, I would say that if you are controlling a $60M budget and are being paid that you are working on the cheap.

That being said, why does one work on the cheap? I am less interested in the compensation of the executives than their performance. What are their goals and how do they quantify success. If taxpayer money is funding their enterprise, tell me not what their successes are, but how they measure success. That gives me an understanding on the CAO’ s value. Folks these people could be underpaid.

Karen – I know this will make your skin crawl, but I believe you to be an “old school” investigative journalist. I mean that as a compliment, and I wish you well. Bon chance.

Many of us live within the realm of an illusion and can be damaged by misplaced trust. CAPSLO reads to be a very complicated receptor of private and public funds. When it comes to money, complicated usually means “something is fishy”. My congratulations to Calcoastnews and to the honest people who will rapidly help clear the air.

You are right about the financial picture being complicated but that can come from many factors other than “something is fishy.”

CAPSLO has several different types of programs they administer with separate funding and expenses for most of them. Even within program types (i.e. “Head Start”) there are financial separations according to sub-type and funding sources. These are almost all mandated by the government source of the funds they receive. They must, and do, keep detailed records of expenses for the government agencies funding their programs and are regularly audited by them. As a result their large “finance” bureaucracy can seem complex and inefficient at times.

If your speculation about “fishy” finances is correct, I think that it needs to be proven with far better information than CCN has provided so far. Whether CAPSLO has unnecessarily obstructed access to that information is another matter.

“OnTheOtherHand” seems to provide valid information that indicates some concern regarding this organization while on the other hand somehow connected to this organization either as a public or private director, spouse, volunteer, etc.

I commend CCN for their “investigative” reporting based on information that is given to them by individuals that have seem wrongdoings, been a victim of wrongdoing or has had access to information relating to wrongdoing. These individuals are called whistle-blowers and there is no one in government that welcomes whistle-blowers which is why we have laws to protect them and then we all know that doesn’t really work. So, someone like Karen and her staff are given the responsibility and task of interviewing, searching, digging, piece-mealing, and having to scratch their way to the truth because no one wants to talk to them, be associated with them or provide information to them. If any of these entities (Cities, County, agencies, boards, law enforcement) would just be open, honest and transparent and help solve these concerns – right or wrong – maybe the name calling, frustration, angry and finger pointing and inquiries the truth could prevail. The only reason anyone would not cooperate at getting to the truth is because there is cover up, guilt and the worse, loyality to individuals regardless of their behavior and wrongdoing. Dan Carpenter demonstrated that well today! The citizens of these cities, counties, states and the federal government have a right to know and an expectation of truth and honesty. As a democracy we have a right to know.

Note: I am only a blogger of this site, not a supporter, employee, and have never met Karen, Dan or any other employee of this site to my knowledge. I am a native San Luis Obispian and a concerned American!

Oh gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd another photo of the SMUG little man?

His arrogance and smuggery is on the level of Drew Peterson’s smuggery.

they are cutting a fat hog. to whom do they answer? Jerry Brown?

OK, Dave Congalton. Yesterday you said you were waiting for more info so is THIS enough for you? I’m one of the “anonymice” that you so like to bash and I’m hoping you’ll actually follow up on this CCN article and not ignore the story like the Fibune will most likely do.

The FACT that Dee Torres and Adam Hill are romantically involved [the visual on that is troubling enough] SHOULD be enough for a serious investigation, apart from all these other serious allegations. Talk about a conflict of interest! Wake up KVEC, KSBY, Fibune, New Times….do your jobs and investigate this $(@# !!!

Tune in today at 4:05 to hear Karen discuss her CAPSLO series and respond to the comments made by Dan Carpenter. 920 AM KVEC. I’m sure Karen would appreciate supportive phone calls thanking her for the work she’s doing.

Thank you CCN for giving us a window on the murky dismal world of a “Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo is a private, non-profit corporation…”

I would be interested to see the list of salaries (which appear to be many) and specific activities they are credited to be addressing. I am sure once the veneer is pulled back… we would all be amazed.

Yeah, I’m still marveling at the four babysitters–er, I mean “in-home childcare providers” who make over $100K/ year!!

Child care providers get paid per child and the amount is set by the State. Child care homes are licensed for varying numbers of children and must adhere to strict child/employee ratios based on the children’s ages. So it is possible that the contractors are making $100/K if they are licensed for a large number of children, but they are having to pay a good portion of that to the other people that work for them.

But lets not forget the providers caring for family members but as a state paid “care provider” or families with means but not desire to care for family members and instead push them off on the state to provide care

Sure, there are always going to be people who game the system. But the child care programs in question here are either providing care for families enrolled in CalWorks or Early Head Start, which means that the care is contingent on the adults in the home being employed and/or in school.

I’m not familiar enough with either program to try to guess how one might take advantage of the requirements, but, sure, it probably happens.

really? thumbs down for something that isn’t an opinion, but just a neutral explanation of how a childcare provider could be contracted for that amount? if you don’t like it, why don’t you complain to the state or the feds? they mandate the programs, the reimbursement rates, and the teacher-child ratios.

What, you expect all the people sitting behind their keyboards here to react based on facts, evidence or reason? It is the emotion of the moment combined with deep biases that produce the responses of many.

Are people truly fooled by the word “grant”??? There is no “grant” fairy. All grant money given is TAXPAYERS money! Mine, yours.

Yes they are! And EOC, re-branded CAPSLO, uses that fact to their advantage every day. Tired of the nominal accountability of government, and lack of easy fraud, they came up with this organization.

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